Research at the Division of Empirical Educational Research

In our division, we investigate educational inequalities that are related to the fact that students belong to different ethnic or cultural groups, have grown up with a language other than the one spoken at school, describe themselves as (a)typical girls or (a)typical boys, or come from families with different socioeconomic status.

For example, large-scale comparative education studies have repeatedly demonstrated significant achievement gaps between boys and girls in math and reading competencies, or disadvantages in competencies, educational attainment, and chosen courses of study for students with a migrant background.

The aim of our research is to identify the causes of these differences and to describe the mechanisms through which educational inequalities unfold: Why do girls underestimate their competencies in science and mathematics? Why do so few girls choose to study computer science or drop out early?

In this context, we are particularly interested in the question of what role the social learning environment as well as the peer group play in the development of these inequalities.

Of particular importance is the method of social network analysis (SNA), which makes it possible, for example, to reveal friendship and professional networks of teachers and learners and to examine these in their longitudinal development. Furthermore, we explore, e.g., with experimental studies, the role that stereotypes and prejudices as well as uncertainty about social affiliation play in maintaining and reinforcing educational inequalities in teaching and learning contexts such as schools, but also in other educational institutions such as universities and colleges.

Finally, we are interested in the questions of what interventions teachers and school practitioners can use to help reduce educational inequalities, and to what extent individual characteristics of a teacher affect teacher-student interactions - in 'traditional' and digital classroom settings.

In doing so, we rely on the strength of an interdisciplinary team with different professional perspectives and methodological approaches and on the cooperation with researchers in Germany and abroad.

The long-term goal of the research area is to translate our research results into concrete and practical strategies for overcoming these differences and to incorporate our findings directly into the training of teachers.