Institute of Vocational and Further Education (IBW)

Over the course of the reporting period, the Institute of Vocational and Further Education (IBW) developed a broad spectrum of research disciplines and acquired significant sums of external funding. Its research focus is on adult education and professional development. The IBW’s unique research profile comprises several specialisms in the fields of political further education, digital education, vocational and in-house training and professional development, continuing academic education, and knowledge and transfer management.

A variety of interesting, externally funded research activities and projects were realised during the reporting period, such as the following:

Skills Development in Occupational Enculturation Processes (INTERCONNECT), a project under Professor Ester Winther, funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG)

Academic Dropout, Habitus and Image in Society (STHAGE), a BMBF-funded collaborative project under Professor Helmut Bremer

Learning to Use a Digital Workbench to Develop Competence-based Professional Exams in Vocational Education and Training   (ASPE), a BMBF-funded collaborative project under Professor Winther and Professor Michael Kerres

The IBW maintains a wide range of partnerships with academic, public and governmental institutions of adult education, vocational training and professional development in Germany, Europe and beyond. During the reporting period, the IBW considerably intensified its long-standing collaboration with the German Institute for Adult Education, Leibniz Centre for Lifelong Learning (DIE). The strengthened partnership manifests itself in a variety of joint projects, such as a research network on literacy and basic education (‘Alphabetisierung und Grundbildung’), a meta project on digital transformation in the education sector (‘Digitalisierung im Bildungsbereich’), and the EU project ‘Promoting Creativity and Innovation Management in an Innovative Blended Learning and Validation Programme at the Interface between Higher Education and Business’. The partnership has been enshrined in a new collaboration agreement between the DIE and UDE.

EU-funded research, in particular, is a stabilising factor for the IBW’s international network. The University of Palermo, University of East Sarajevo, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, European University of Tirana and Universum College Prishtinë are permanent members of the Institute’s research community by binding mandate. The IBW also maintains collaborative relationships with the Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (EHB) and the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (CEDEFOP).

All divisions of the IBW conduct knowledge transfer at a large scale. Within the context of the coronavirus pandemic, our members’ expertise in digital education, knowledge management and course planning has been in particularly high demand. The learning lab’s OpenLecture services (under Professor Kerres) and the Institute’s participation in the series ‘Wissenschaft trifft...’ of the Initiative Wissenschaftsstadt Essen (under Professor Winther) are just two examples of our transfer activities.

In its key research areas, the IBW focuses on topics that have already gained momentum and significance at the national and international level. Not only do they further the possibility of greater external funding, they may also inform the agenda-setting process in (further-)education research. The AlphaDekade project of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research allocates increasing volumes of funding to research activities in the field of literacy and basic education. It focuses on projects targeting continuous technical and structural improvements in business and society that are aimed at citizens with low literacy.

Institute of Educational Sciences (IfE)

The Institute of Educational Sciences (IfE) engages in a wide variety of research activities. More than any other institute, it carries out quantitative as well as qualitative studies. Based on sound methodology, it advances established methods and makes them applicable to research-based formats in the field of teacher training (Professor Anja Tervooren, Professor Nicolle Pfaff: ‘MethodenLab’; Professor Marten Clausen: ‘Portal zum fallbasierten Lehren und Lernen’, a portal for case-based approaches to teaching and learning). The Institute’s projects are aimed at discipline-specific, theoretical education and the development of educational practice. Its ongoing research can be categorised as follows:

In the cluster of basic research in the educational sciences, the Department for International Herbartianism Research (Professor Rotraut Coriand) and the Hans-Jochen Gamm Archive (Professor Armin Bernhard), which works on advancing the field of critical pedagogy, particularly stand out. Professor Nicolle Pfaff’s research into youth, anti-Muslim racism and antisemitism (2017–2024) is a representative example of the second cluster, which tackles the challenges of heterogeneity and diversity in pedagogy. Studies of the digital transformation of the education system tackle questions of school and class development, which make up the third cluster. They include three BMBF-funded projects between 2019 and 2023: ‘Metavorhaben Digi-EBF’, ‘ForUSE-digi’, and ‘DigiSchulNet’, all under Professor Isabell van Ackeren. A ProViel study on children and inclusion, ‘Kinder als Akteur*innen der Inklusion’ (under Professor Martina Richter since 2019), and an upcoming project on transnational childhoods under Professor Alexandra König, make up the cluster of childhood, youth and family in transition. With these specialisms, the IfE participates in discourses of the Interdisciplinary Centre for Educational Research (IZfB) and the Interdisciplinary Centre for Integration and Migration Research (InZentIM).

The IfE will continue to carry out systematic basic research in the educational sciences and further externally funded projects on the topics listed above in future. They include the DFG-funded project on ’subject discipline specific forms of dealing with key vocational requirements in the teaching profession’ (2021–2024, Professor Carolin Rotter) and the project ‘International Civic and Citizenship Education Study 2022’ with funding from the EU and the BMBF (2020–2024, Professor Hermann Josef Abs).