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Cooperative Graduate School Pro|Mat|Nat

Kooperatives Promotionskolleg Pro|Mat|Nat – English Version


The graduate school Pro|Mat|Nat (Pädagogische Professionalität in Mathematik und Naturwissenschaften) is funded by the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts in Baden-Wuerttemberg. Within the graduate school ten partial projects offer opportunities for graduates to follow up their academic studies with a doctorate. These are the subprojects:


  • Project A1:
    Differences in epistemic judgments of German primary and secondary school biology teachers
    The research project empirically investigates and compares the understanding of science of biology teachers in different German primary and secondary school types (Grundschule, Hauptschule, Realschule & Gymnasium). The primary focus of research is their epistemological judgments. Epistemological judgments of teachers and students justify their assumptions and beliefs about the nature of knowledge and the process of acquiring knowledge. Numerous studies proof, that sophisticated epistemic judgments are in line with appropriate learning processes and better learning results
    Doctoral Candidate: Tim Kramer
    Supervisiors: Prof. Dr. Elmar Stahl, Prof. Dr. Werner Rieß
  • Project A2:
    Empirical Study on Pragmatic Science Concepts and Instruction Methods of Physics Teachers
    The aim of this study is twofold. In the first, different pragmatic concepts of physics in research and education are assessed by means of a descriptive categorical system. This system was developed within an exploratory interview survey amongst 20 German physics teachers. As a first result, the pragmatic concepts of physics accrue from educational research and a philosophy of science background as a four-dimensional category system. The other aim is to research teachers' techniques about learning and teaching by mapping out adopted methods of instruction.
    Again, explorative interview survey was the initial starting point for gaining a four-dimensional descriptive category system. Based on the current results, the main survey aims to lift complex structures and interdependencies from pragmatic concepts of physics and methods of instruction.
    Doctoral Candidate:Lydia Schulze Heuling
    Supervisiors: Prof. Dr. Silke Mikelskis-Seifert, Prof. Dr. Matthias Nückles
  • Project A4:
    Epistemological beliefs of early childhood teachers about domain-specific and cross-domain knowledge and their relationship to professional action
    The quality of educational processes in early childhood education institutions has become increasingly important in education policy and scientific debate (Fthenakis, 2003; OECD 2004). The professionalization of early childhood teachers is seen as an important parameter in influencing the implementation of childhood education processes to ensure the quality of educational and social responsibilities in nursery school. Epistemological beliefs are individual perceptions of what characterizes knowledge, how knowledge is created, and how certain knowledge is (Hofer, 1997). They have also been found to be an important aspect of competence in teaching-learning processes (Hofer & Pintrich, 1997, 2001). There is a lack of knowledge about the structure of epistemological beliefs of early childhood professionals and the influence of those beliefs to educational acting. In this project, the domain-specific (here pedagogy and science) and cross-domain epistemological beliefs of early childhood teachers are considered as a competence aspect of professional knowledge. These beliefs will be examined in the context of professional action in early childhood education.
    Doctoral Candidate: Magdalena Plöger-Werner
    Supervisiors: Prof. Dr. Christoph Mischo, Prof. Dr. Gerald Wittmann
  • Project B1:
    Facilitation of teachers´ diagnostic competencies with respect to the concept of function
    In the current debate about teacher professionalization, diagnostic competencies represent one of the central components of a teacher's pedagogical content knowledge (Shulman, 1986). Diagnostic competencies comprise the ability to assess student achievement and the diagnostic potential of tasks. In the last decade, studies have shown differences in teachers' diagnostic competencies across various school types (Karing, 2009) and dealt with the facilitation of diagnostic competencies in particular subject areas. However, one can notice deficiencies in the assessment of a student's solution and the estimation of a task's diagnostic potential (Schwarz, Wissmach, & Kaiser, 2008; Fischer & Sjuts, 2010; Klug, 2012).
    This study analyzes diagnostic competence of mathematics teachers pertaining to the concept of function as an important aspect of the mathematics curriculum in Germany (KMK Standards, 2003). In the course of this study, an intervention will be developed and implemented. To evaluate the effectiveness of this training an online test and assessment tool will be generated.
    Doctoral Candidate: Julia Teller
    Supervisiors: Prof. Dr. Bärbel Barzel, Prof. Dr. Markus Wirtz, Prof. Dr. Timo Leuders
  • Project B2:
    Promoting system thinking in sustainable and biological areas
    System thinking is an essential key to handling complex natural scientific, economical and sociocultural questions which is especially important in the environment of "Education for Sustainable Development" (ESD).
    In prior studies the main focus was on promoting the system thinking skills of students. The present study goes one step further: its aim is to investigate the effectiveness of a teacher training course in promoting students' system thinking.
    Doctoral Candidate: Stefan Streiling
    Supervisiors: Prof. Dr. Werner Rieß, Prof. Dr. Elmar Stahl
  • Project B3:
    The influence of math-language gender stereotypes on teachers' behavior in class
    Girls tend to have more negative attitudes, self-concepts and anxieties towards math than boys (Gunderson, Ramirez, Levine & Beilock, 2011). Accordingly, fewer women enter math-intensive fields for their career. One important environmental factor influencing math attitudes are the teachers. Previous work has shown that teachers' gender stereotypes influence their attitudes and expectations towards boys and girls, which in turn impacts their students' achievement and interests (Eccles & Jacobs, 1986; Jacobs, 2005). It is not clear through exactly which behavioral mechanisms teachers' own attitudes influence student attitudes and achievement. In this project, we plan to examine how gender stereotypes as well as essentialist beliefs, which are discussed as being one of the central cognitive biases underlying stereotypes, impact teachers' behavior in class. Moreover, we intend to investigate how the subjective feeling of being informed influences judgmental decisions, since it has been suggested that schematic influences are especially strong when being solely under the impression of having received judgment-relevant information (Eyssel & Bohner, 2011).
    Doctoral Candidate: Mirjam Nürnberger
    Supervisiors: Prof. Dr. Josef Nerb, Prof. Dr. Hans Spada
  • Project C1:
    How to estimate task-difficulty appropriately in the domain of functional thinking
    In adaptive teaching, teachers must be able to take the students' learning abilities into account. In this sense, a key facet of subject-specific pedagogical skills is the ability to assume the student's perspective. Through numerous empirical studies in educational research, the "Expert Blind Spot" has been confirmed. This means that teachers tend to make misestimations concerning the difficulty of a given task. The planned intervention study will investigate whether and to what extent improvements can be made concerning teachers' estimations of task difficulty in the domain of functional thinking. One part of the intervention gives instructions of didactic knowledge about difficulty-creating task characteristics. The other part of the intervention supports teachers in different ways of reflecting on the tasks. Tasks especially prone to misestimations are first determined in a preliminary study, and then analyzed in terms of typical understanding barriers. Additionally, the study examines how tendencies to miscalculate depend on the level of mathematical knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge.
    Doctoral Candidate: Andreas Ostermann
    Supervisiors: Prof. Dr. Timo Leuders, Prof. Dr. Matthias Nückles, Prof. Dr. Lars Holzäpfel
  • Project C1a:
    Diagnostic competences of mathematics teachers - what kinds of knowledge do teachers use in their assessment?
    Diagnostic competences of teachers are important for students´ learning success. One aspect of diagnostic competences has been found in recent studies: the accordance of diagnostic findings of teachers to actual achievements by students. However, there is little empirical evidence for cognitive processes, especially for teachers in diagnostic situations and for the knowledge they need for it.
    The main research objective is to identify facets of subject-based diagnostic competences. This will be based on analyses of theoretical and empirical findings. Here the focus is on mathematics. In addition to formal theory-based diagnostic tests in school, there are also informal diagnostic situations which influence instruction and therefore learning success. Such diagnostic situations occur in mathematics for example when dealing with tasks. Two different diagnostic situations can be found there: assessment of tasks and evaluation of students´ solutions. So this research project focuses on the way teachers make assessments and on what kinds of knowledge they use to do so.
    Post-Doc: Dr. Kathleen Philipp
    Supervisiors: Prof. Dr. Timo Leuders, Prof. Dr. Matthias Nückles
  • Project C1b:
    How can teachers know what students know? - Supporting preservice teachers in adopting interactional strategies that allow for effective and efficient online diagnosis in one-to-one tutorial dialogues
    Assessing students' learning processes and learning outcomes is one of the most important skills involved in teaching. Teachers need to be aware of students' knowledge to assess potential students' knowledge gaps. However, studies have revealed significant deficits in pre-service teacher tutors' and teacher tutors' diagnostic competences, even in one-on-one tutoring dialogues. One reason for inaccurate assessment might be that teachers use their expert knowledge as a basis for teaching and thus make false assumptions about the student's knowledge (expert blind spot). Alternatively, teachers might be strongly engaging in explaining and instructing, so that insufficient capacity remains for correct diagnoses (cognitive load). Teachers might also perceive the diagnosis of learning processes as being unimportant. Based on these considerations, a first study will explore which categorical patterns teachers use to interpret dialogues between teachers and students regarding diagnostically relevant interactional strategies. The findings of this study will be elaborated in a training for diagnostic competences, which will then be evaluated in a subsequent study.
    Doctoral Candidate: Anna Gast
    Supervisiors: Prof. Dr. Matthias Nückles, Prof. Dr. Werner Rieß
  • Project C2:
    Modifying the Views on Science of Pre-Service Teachers by a "Learning by Design"-Approach
    An increasing number of empirical findings indicate relationships between epistemological beliefs of teachers (e.g. their assumptions about the nature of knowledge and the nature of learning and their teaching methods), the teaching environment and the learning processes and learning outcomes of students. The subject of the research focuses on an adequate investigation of epistemological judgments and views on the nature of science and how they interact. Another main interest is the modification of those views and beliefs. These considerations will be transferred to a "Learning by Design" approach. The intent of Learning by Design is for students to acquire profound knowledge in the active designing process of media products. In the context of epistemological beliefs and judgments, besides acquiring content knowledge, Learning by Design has the main aim of modifying the views on the nature of science in terms of professionalization of future teachers. These modifications will be explored in the main study.
    Doctoral Candidate: Bernd Schüssele
    Supervisiors: Prof. Dr. Elmar Stahl, Prof. Dr. Mikelskis-Seifert
  • Project C3:
    When pedagogical knowledge is supposed to stand in for pedagogical content knowledge: The relationship of pedagogical knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge using the example of multiple external representations
    The action of teaching is seen as a complex interaction between multiple knowledge domains. Beside general pedagogical knowledge (pk) and content knowledge (ck), teachers possess as a third category the pedagogical content knowledge (pck), which is understood as a merger of the former two. Based on this knowledge, teachers design their everyday teaching at school. Since there is no pck available in unfamiliar teaching areas and therefore decisions cannot be drawn from it, the question arises of whether teachers are able to rely on pk. Can pk actually be applied even though it is mostly taught separately from subject-related content in university? The present study investigates the relationship of pck and pk on student teachers. Even though this relationship is relevant for teacher education, a number of open questions remain in current research. Further subjects of interest highlight the influence of previous knowledge, working memory and processing depth.
    Doctoral Candidate: Nora Harr
    Supervisiors: Prof. Dr. Alexander Renkl, Prof. Dr. Andreas Eichler
  • Project C4:
    Acquirement of pedagogical knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge about strategies through providing a generalized, categorical scheme as a structuring framework
    Knowledge in pieces, incoherent, unsystematic, and often non-normative knowledge may limit the effectiveness of professional training interventions. Providing a generalized, categorial scheme as a structuring framework could help learners learn more from a demanding training intervention. Findings supporting this were found by Slotta and Chi (2006) in studying physics. In a first experiment, 45 student teachers worked with a program addressing the assessment of learning strategies. Before undergoing the training intervention, the framework group received a generalized, categorial scheme providing them with an idea of how to distinguish strategies. This could be used as a framework for organizing their knowledge. The control group received comparable pre-training intervention providing scattered factual information but no framework. We found that both groups achieved about equal learning outcome (descriptively better outcomes for the framework group). However, the categorial pre-training intervention increased the level of motivation and reduced the learning time in the tutorial significantly. Hence, the pre-training intervention led to more efficient learning. We presume that an improved intervention could yield increased effects. Overall, the study indicates which methods can be used to help overcome the barrier of "incompatible knowledge" and thus to optimize training intervention effects.
    Doctoral Candidate: Andrea Ohst
    Supervisiors: Prof. Dr. Alexander Renkl, Prof. Dr. Matthias Nückles, Prof. Dr. Werner Rieß
  • Project C5:
    Collaborative problem solving in mathematics: What do teachers know about the quality of collaboration and how can their knowledge be further improved?
    Collaborative learning is a well-researched instructional approach that is highly effective and often superior to individual learning. However, this advantage depends on designing the collaboration carefully, considering factors such as group size, group composition, students' prior knowledge, and learning goals. These factors influence how the groups will interact, such as giving and receiving tailored explanations, which in the end determines the fruitfulness of the collaboration. Teachers need to be aware of these factors and processes in order to facilitate collaboration successfully.
    We aim to (1) develop a model describing teachers' competencies required for Implementing Collaborative Learning in Mathematics (ICLM), to design (2) corresponding instruments for measuring ICLM competencies, and to design (3) a training for pre- and in-service student teachers in mathematics to increase them. The model draws on state of the art research to inform three major components of teachers' ICLM competencies: planning collaborative situations, monitoring students' interactions, and supporting beneficial collaborative behaviors.
    Doctoral Candidate: Celia Kändler und Michael Wiedmann
    Supervisiors: Prof. Dr. Hans Spada, Prof. Dr. Timo Leuders