Research Area IV

Professional Competence of Teachers and Cognitive Activation in the Classroom


Research Area IV investigates processes of learning and instruction in the school context. All projects are guided by a theoretical framework that conceptualizes learning as a mental process involving the active and independent construction of knowledge. To create and sustain learning situations that support active and independent knowledge construction, instructors need to provide challenging tasks, monitor student learning, and adapt their teaching accordingly. This is a demanding task in the classroom situation—it is no easy matter to create challenging and suitable learning conditions for groups of students who may differ greatly in terms of motivation or prior knowledge. We thus investigate teachers’ professional competence as an important condition for instructional quality and ask which skills teachers need to create opportunities for insightful learning in the classroom.

The flagship of this research program is the Professional Competence of Teachers, Cognitively Activating Instruction, and the Development of Students’ Mathematical Literacy (COACTIV) study, which was among the first studies in the German-speaking countries to assess mathematics teachers’ knowledge and skills directly and to examine how aspects of teacher competence relate to instructional processes and students’ learning outcomes. Building on the COACTIV project, a supplementary study examines teacher candidates’ acquisition of professional competence during teacher training. In addition to aspects of knowledge, we look at teachers’ psychological characteristics and examine the emergence of stress symptoms in teachers (BELE study).

Instruction itself is the focus of another set of studies in Research Area IV. Data from the COACTIV study indicate that the mathematics instruction typical of German schools offers little opportunity for insightful learning processes. Further studies have thus been initiated to determine which aspects of instruction that students facilitate students’ cognitive activation and motivation. For example, the experimental study Supporting Autonomy in Science Activities (SASA) examines the effects of autonomy support in physics instruction, and the Intraindividual Variability of Student Motivation in Lessons study monitors fluctuation in student interest across a series of lessons.

To conclude, all studies in Research Area IV seek to investigate how teachers can be supported in creating powerful learning environments providing opportunities for insightful learning. Our research can thus contribute to the enhancement of instruction and teacher training.

Weiterführende Literatur

Baumert, J., & Kunter, M. (2006). Stichwort: Professionelle Kompetenz von Lehrkräften. Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft, 9(4), 469-520.

Klusmann, U., Kunter, M., Trautwein, U., & Baumert, J. (2006). Lehrerbelastung und Unterrichtsqualität aus der Perspektive von Lehrenden und Lernenden. Zeitschrift für Pädagogische Psychologie, 20(3), 161–173.

Kunter, M., Dubberke, T., Baumert, J., Blum, W., Brunner, M., Jordan, A., Klusmann, U., Krauss, S., Löwen, K., Neubrand, J., & Tsai, Y.-M. (2006). Mathematikunterricht in den PISA-Klassen 2004: Rahmenbedingungen, Formen und Lehr-Lernprozesse. In M. Prenzel, J. Baumert, W. Blum, R. Lehmann, D. Leutner, M. Neubrand, R. Pekrun, H.-G. Rolff, J. Rost & U. Schiefele (Eds.), PISA 2003: Untersuchungen zur Kompetenzentwicklung im Verlauf eines Schuljahres (pp. 161–194). Münster: Waxmann.

Weitere Informationen

Schulische Bedingungsfaktoren für die Entwicklung der Lesekompetenz
Beanspruchung und Belastung im Lehrerberuf – eine vertiefende Analyse zur Rolle von persönlichen und institutionellen Ressourcen (BELE)
Generelles pädagogisches Wissen als ein Aspekt der Lehrerkompetenz (PeKno)
Intraindividuelle Variabilität von Schülermotivation im Unterricht (SitIn)
Förderung des autonomen Lernens im Sachunterricht (SASA)
„Using Evidence“: eine Analyse des Lehrens und Lernens im naturwissenschaftlichen Unterricht in den USA und in Deutschland