Education Research

Schools are currently undergoing a profound structural change and facing growing challenges in view of increasing social and individual heterogeneity. Up until now, research-based teacher training had thrown but scant light on this heterogeneity. There was no fully developed and scientifically documented approach in place treating the relationships between individual professionalism, social developments and dealing with heterogeneity, enabling a more advanced theory-based support of teaching practice or enabling the students to develop their individual skills profile.

The civil society of the 21st century requires a form of teacher-training which promotes individual students, allowing them to acquire relevant skills in dealing with heterogeneity. The point of the matter is not just heterogeneity within the student body and in the subject-didactic approaches, but rather at teaching staff and school system level.

Focus points

Competence Research

While heterogeneity is not a new issue, the results of international comparative studies suggest, in particular, that Germany is not satisfactorily dealing with heterogeneity. On the one hand, learners differ in many of the relevant pre-requisite skills for learning, such as capacities, knowledge, learning styles, motivational orientations, interests, social and cultural features. Taking this heterogeneity into consideration, the demand that the best possible learning opportunities must be determined by individual conditions, places high expectations on the pedagogical professionalism of teachers. On the other hand, the subjects of instruction themselves have become heterogeneous. This is particularly true if one steps beyond the borders of the didactics of individual subjects.

In addition to fundamental subject-based academic knowledge, teachers need didactic and pedagogical-psychological content, including

- a cross-curricular contrasting understanding of taught objects, linking different points of view (e.g.: What does teaching mathematical learning in German as a second language mean?)

- extensive knowledge of the active contexts of this heterogeneity conditions in specific teaching situations

- diagnostic capabilities with regard to the competence development of students in specific domains and subjects and

- knowledge of possibilities and techniques of promotion, individualization and differentiation in class and their effects.

Professional expertise oriented on subject-didactics in these fields is patchy. Although such projects are currently being treated at many institutions, there is still a great need for research.

Classroom Research

The precondition for innovative and effective teacher training is the laying of foundations through research. As part of classroom research, teacher training at Leuphana addresses the issue of heterogeneity and specializes in didactics- and eduation-oriented projects oriented, where action, concepts and methods are developed with the aim of dealing with heterogeneity and are checked for effectiveness. It does so not only in a general inter- and transdisciplinary orientation, but also differently from other initiatives by putting special emphasis on a subject-didactic perspective.

In addition to studies on the effectiveness of prevailing teaching approaches, teaching/learning experiments and intervention studies are conducted in order to test new theory-based teaching approaches. Studies and projects within this research field are subject-oriented and simultaneously looking for means to include the connecting elements linking these subjects. They can direct their focus on:

- subject-didactic teaching concepts including the heterogeneity of taught objects,

- the development, implementation and evaluation of materials permitting self-directed, problem-oriented and differentiating learning

- the establishment and development of teachers’ diagnostic skills,

- the establishment and development of teachers’ adaptive skills by further individualizing and differentiating methods in the classroom,

- the development, implementation and evaluation of promotional activities and training in specific learning difficulties, including the development of an inclusive culture of support at schools,

- school organizational forms such as integrated classes, cross-cohort classes, all-day schools, community schools and their effectiveness in terms of promoting individual learning developments.

Especially the integration of different subject didactics and the pedagogical and psychological teaching-learning research in a common research area strengthen the empirical classroom research in all subjects.