In a number of research projects, we investigate the conditions and support measures for successful teaching and learning of children. The focus is on the linguistic and self-regulatory aspects of the teaching-learning process.
The research projects operate on three levels:
- level of the children,
- the level of the teacher and
- level of teaching.
Although we study teaching-learning processes at all school levels, our focus is on early childhood (kindergarten, preschool, elementary school).
Language development is closely tied to cognitive development and knowledge acquisition. For example, the understanding of certain concepts or grammatical constructions is crucial for modeling processes when solving mathematical problems.
In a series of studies, we are therefore investigating the relationship between language competence, self-regulation, executive functions, and complex problem solving in elementary school children. We are also investigating the possibilities of language support in early science education for children with a migration background or with language impairments.
The importance of language skills for educational achievement is particularly evident in the context of bilingual teaching and learning. Immersion teaching (or Content and Language Integrated Learning: subject-specific teaching is conducted in a foreign language) is becoming increasingly popular. In several studies we investigate the effects of bilingual learning on the learning process, learning performance and cognitive development.
In another strand of research, we examine the language interactions between teachers and learners in the teaching-learning process. Language support measures in the sense of scaffolding are considered in the literature as a central way to promote constructive engagement with a learning object.
We explore which forms of scaffolding and interaction are particularly effective in early science learning (ProEarlyScience Project), how these relate to teachers' professional knowledge, and how relevant teacher development interventions need to be effectively designed.
Another research area is the design of teaching-learning environments in the context of higher education. We investigate how a cognitively-activating seminar concept (especially in teacher training) affects various volitional, motivational, and cognitive characteristics of students. The aim is to create learning environments that enable students to deepen and elaborate their understanding of the learning content as well as to transfer theoretical knowledge into later teaching practice. A special focus is on the promotion of cooperative learning, as this is associated with positive learning and performance developments. Theoretically, these learning-enhancing effects can be explained on the one hand by an increased willingness to engage in active, elaborative and reflective learning processes and on the other hand by the perception of positive, supportive relationships as well as an associated increased sense of well-being. In particular, peer assessment is taken up here as a core element of cooperative learning, which is considered an effective method for actively involving learners in learning processes in a self-directed manner.