Department Educational Psychology


Motivation development at primary school age and beyond

(Contact: Birgit Spinath )

Various motivational prerequisites for learning and achievement behaviour, such as intrinsic motivation, joy of learning, change unfavourably for most pupils in the course of their school years. The MeGa project investigates possible causes for this decline in motivation. To this end, several longitudinal studies on motivation development have been carried out, taking into account variables such as ability self-perceptions, implicit theories on intelligence and talent, conscientiousness and more.

Cognitive and motivational conditions of school success

(Contact: Birgit Spinath )

A central question in educational psychology concerns the interaction of different factors in explaining learning success or failure. For example, we do not yet have a sufficient understanding of the interaction of cognitive (e.g. intelligence) and motivational factors. We also know too little about the sources of inter-individual differences in learning and performance prerequisites and the extent to which these sources provide us with information about the influence of these factors. Several sub-projects of the work unit pursue these and similar questions.

Improving higher education teaching

(Contact: Birgit Spinath ; Eva Seifried )

Educational psychology is concerned with the optimisation of teaching-learning processes. This also includes the improvement of teaching at universities. In the lecture "Introduction to Educational Psychology", research-based teaching is actively practised (cf. Spinath & Seifried, 2012; Spinath, Seifried & Eckert, 2016): For an evaluation and further development of the course, different data have been and are collected during the semester (e.g. (previous) knowledge, motivational prerequisites and student development). This is intended to continuously improve the course and at the same time to gain generalisable insights into teaching-learning processes.

Ask for Evidence - Teaching evidence-based thinking and acting in teacher education

(Supported by the Excellence Initiative - Future Concept Innovation Fund Frontier)
(Contact: Eva Seifried ; Cordelia Menz )

The basis of professional action as well as important decisions and reforms should be scientific knowledge; however, current social developments indicate a mistrust or even rejection of scientifically based facts (keyword post-facticism). This project aims to investigate the extent of evidence-based thinking and acting of teacher training students and to develop measures to promote a corresponding attitude of thinking and to test their effectiveness.

Minimal Interventions

(Contact: Heike Dietrich ; Birgit Spinath )

The motivation of pupils to participate actively and reliably in school lessons and to deal with school content depends on very different influences. These include, to a large extent, convictions about the benefits of the learning content, assumptions about (un)changeable personal characteristics, but also attributions of group characteristics and ideas about what kind of future person one wants to be. Negative self-images can lead to permanent and serious impairments of school performance. With so-called minimal interventions (also called letter interventions or wise interventions) psychology offers new approaches aimed at counteracting various negative psychological processes in pupils. With comparatively little effort, the learning and educational success of pupils is to be permanently improved. Various approaches have been developed to practical maturity in the USA. Numerous scientific studies point to their effectiveness. The aim of the project is therefore to test and establish minimal interventions in Germany. The first question is which of the approaches tested so far are particularly suitable for use in schools in Germany. On this basis, a standardised programme format is to be developed that can be implemented easily and cost-effectively in a larger number of schools. In addition, it is to be tested whether, in addition to previous intervention methods, media techniques based on addressing the target group via social media can be used effectively and should therefore be particularly suitable for the target group.

The significance of socio-economic status and perceptions of justice in the study of social science subjects

(Contact: Heike Dietrich )

Within the German education system, findings suggest that the socio-economic status (SÖS) of children, adolescents and young adults is related to their academic performance and their educational aspirations. A core question of the research project is whether there is a connection between objective measures of SÖS and the entry requirements with which students of the social science subjects psychology, sociology and political science begin their studies. A further core question of the research project then deals with the question of whether, in addition to the "objective" ESO (recorded on the basis of the parents' education and occupation), the "subjectively" perceived ESO also has explanatory power with regard to the academic performance of psychology students. Closely connected with questions about students' ESOs are also questions about the perception of educational (in)justice. The last core question of the research project therefore deals with the adaptation of the scales of organisational justice of Colquitt (2001) or its German version by Maier, Streicher, Jonas and Woschée (2007) for the higher education sector.

Motivation in higher education

(Contact: Eva Bosch )

Motivation is an important predictor of academic success. However, initial studies have shown that the motivation to learn and achieve develops unfavourably during the course of the programme and also during the course of a semester. With the help of longitudinal studies, the development of student motivation and inter-individual differences in this development should be better understood. Possible explanations for this unfavourable development should also be investigated on this basis.