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Institute of Education

Research projects

FORAS:Q – Research on the teaching quality outside the classroom

Teaching outside the classroom (Outdoor Education / Outdoor Learning) has great potential to positively influence students’ physical activity, mental health, well-being, educational success, self-efficacy, resilience, and engagement.

Despite decades of research on what constitutes teaching quality, outdoor teaching has been neglected. In the empirical study accompanying the project “Schule Uster: Draussen unterrichten bewegt” of the SILVIVA Foundation, we will test and validate survey instruments on both the learning opportunities provided in class and their individual use by students in indoor and outdoor education. We will then investigate the extent to which there are differences in the teaching quality indoors and outdoors.

Further information can be found at SILVIVA

  • Duration: 2024 – 2025
  • Project management: Prof. Dr. Anna-Katharina Praetorius (University of Zurich)
  • Project team: Fabian Hug (University of Zurich), Leonie Gossner (University of Zurich)


FormATool for Cognitive Activation in Teaching

Cognitive activation is the stimulation of learners so that they can think more deeply and engage in detailed discussion about a subject. It is an important aspect of teaching quality. Teachers at all levels, from school through university, aim for cognitive activation in their teaching. But implementation of cognitive activation learning opportunities can be challenging. Research has yielded many materials, techniques, and methodologies for fostering the implementation of cognitive activation teaching-learning processes. However, teachers are often unable to determine whether the learning opportunities they have created are actually resulting in cognitive activation. The FormATool project aims to remedy this by providing a web-based solution for teachers in schools and universities that enables them to compare formative feedback from learners with their own assessments of cognitive activation in teaching situations.

  • Duration: May 2022 - May 2023
  • Project management: Wida Wemmer-Rogh (University of Zurich)
  • Project team: Leonie Gossner (University of Zurich), Oliver Kamer (University of Zurich).

Optimizing the selection and training of raters: How do rater characteristics and training features affect the quality of judgments of teaching quality?

SNF-Project 204993

Classroom observations are frequently used in teacher evaluation, training, and professional development as well as in research. Ensuring that the observations are reliable and valid is therefore of great importance. Studies have shown however, that they are often neither, even when the raters are trained (Bell et al., 2014; Gitomer et al., 2014; Praetorius & Charalambous, 2018). There is limited systematic and causal evidence about ways of enhancing the reliability and validity of such ratings (Cohen & Goldhaber, 2016; Hill, Charalambous, & Kraft, 2012; Praetorius, 2014). One promising avenue of research is looking at the characteristics of the raters and how well they are trained (Bell et al., 2014; Cash et al., 2012; Styck et al., 2020).The aim of this project is to systematically investigate fundamental rater characteristics and aspects of rater training and their effect on the quality (i.e., reliability and validity) of judgments of teaching quality. We aim to generate evidence for how the selection and training of raters can be optimized, taking into account feasibility issues. The project focuses on the Three Basic Dimensions of teaching quality (see Praetorius, Klieme, Herbert, & Pinger, 2018): classroom management, student support, and cognitive activation. We will investigate the relevance of the following aspects of observations on teaching quality: (RQ 1) the raters’ content-related characteristics (content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge with respect to the content of the observed les-sons, their study major) and their generic characteristics (personality, pedagogical knowledge, beliefs, and teaching experience) and (RQ 2) specific rater constellations based on typically used numbers of raters (n = 2-4) in a heterogeneous pool of raters, (RQ 3) experimental manipulations of raters’ content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge of the topic of the observed lessons, (RQ 4) experimental manipulations of the practice phase (guided discussion vs. self-directed reflection) of rater training, and (RQ 5) experimental manipulations of training duration (12h versus 6h). We will maximize the variance of the characteristics of the project’s rater pool by selecting participants with a range of educational attainment (BA and MA students and qualified teachers), who are on different tracks (training to teach in primary schools, secondary schools, or upper secondary baccalaureate schools, or studying educational science) and specializing in a variety of subjects (science education, mathematics education, general education, or other). We will also take advantage of the uniquely heterogeneous nature of education settings in Germany and Switzerland. The lessons that will be rated comprise two grade levels and two core sub-jects, science (focus on floating and sinking, grades 3-4) and mathematics (focus on the Pythagorean theorem, grades 8-9). RQ 1 and RQ 2 will be investigated using the control groups in the four experiments (using multi-level regression analyses and real-data simulations). RQ 3-5 are investigated using experimental manipulations of each of the areas of interest. The central dependent variables are inter-rater reliability (based on generalizability theory), rater agreement with reference ratings (based on distance scores), and predictive validity with respect to students’ conceptual understanding as well as content-specific interest (using two-level regression models). For RQ 3 and RQ 4, think-alouds and cognitive interviews with subsamples will be conducted to gain further insight into the differences between the experimental conditions (using qualitative content analysis).

More information

  • Start/End: 08.2022-31.7.2025
  • Project-Leader: Praetorius Anna-Katharina, Institute of Education, University of Zurich
  • Co-applicants: Heinze Aiso (Didaktik der Mathematik IPN an der CAU), Kleickmann Thilo (Universität zu Kiel IPL), Steffensky Mirjam (Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematic Department of Educational Research)
  • Partner: Hartig Johannes (Educational Measurement Bildungsqualität und Evaluation DIPF Leibniz-Inst. für Bildungsforschung)
  • Staff: Gitzi Valerie

Determinants and Consequences of Experiencing a Sense of Belonging During Online Teaching

As part of the measures to stem the spread of COVID-19, much teaching was moved online. A major criticism of online teaching during the pandemic was that it resulted in limited opportunities for the formation of interpersonal relationships. A number of psychological models consider meeting the need for belonging an important precondition for student motivation and well-being. This project uses Helmke’s opportunity-use model to investigate the interplay between individual predisposition and the structure of instruction at both the surface (communication channel) and deep (teacher behavior) level, and the satisfaction of students’ need for belonging. It also looks at how these factors influence the motivation and well-being of the recipients of online instruction.

  • Duration: January 2022 – September 2023    
  • Project management: Dr. Vanda Capon-Sieber

Observation-based assessment of teaching quality

This project was launched on behalf of the "Arbeitsgemeinschaft Externe Evaluation von Schulen [External Working Group for the Assessment of Schools]" (argev). It comprises the development and piloting of a set of instruments for the observation-based assessment of teaching quality and the subsequent development of a qualification course for assessment personnel. The instruments will be geared towards external school assessment and competence-oriented teaching to fit with Curriculum 21.

Further information can be found at argev.

  • Duration: 2018 - 2023
  • Project management: Prof. Dr. Anna-Katharina Praetorius (University of Zurich), Wida Rogh (University of Zurich)
  • Project team: Leonie Gossner (University of Zurich), Roya Hüppi (University of Zurich), Fabian Hug (University of Zurich)


The COLD (competencies of schoolteachers and adult educators in teaching German as a second language in linguistically diverse classrooms) collaborative project was led by the German Institute for Adult Education (DIE). The project was funded as part of the Cooperative Excellence Programme with funds from the Leibniz Competition 2019.

The aim of the project was the assessment of the professional skills of teachers who teach German as a second language in linguistically heterogeneous learning groups in both schools and adult education classes. It also addressed the professional challenges that have arisen across educational sectors because of the immigration of children, young people, and adults. The research topics were examined in a real teaching context using teachers in integration courses and preparation classes.

Further information can be found under COLD and in the press release (PDF, 195 KB).

  • Duration: April 2019 – March 2022
  • Project Management: Prof. Dr. Josef Schrader (DIE)
  • Coordination: PD Dr. Hannes Schröter (DIE), Dr. Stefanie Bredthauer (University of Cologne)
  • Cooperation partners: Prof. Dr. Michael Becker-Mrotzek (University of Cologne), Prof. Dr. Hans-Joachim Roth (University of Cologne), Prof. Dr. Eckhard Klieme (DIPF), Prof. Dr. Uta Klusmann (IPN, Kiel University), Prof. Dr. Fani Lauermann (TU Dortmund University), Prof. Dr. Irit Bar-Kochva (University of Cologne), Prof. Dr. Johannes König (University of Cologne), Prof. Dr. Walt Detmar Meurers (University of Tübingen), Prof. Dr. Anna-Katharina Praetorius (University of Zurich)
  • Research assistants/doctoral students: Moritz Sahlender (DIE), Anastasia Knaus (University of Cologne), Zarah Leonie Weiss (University of Tübingen)

TALIS Video Study

School systems in Chile, China(Shanghai), Colombia, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Spain(Madrid) the United Kingdom (England) participated in the international Teaching and Learning International Survey (TALIS) video study. The aim of the study was to investigate the connection between teaching processes and the motivational characteristics and learning achievement of pupils. The study was led by an international consortium that included the Leibniz Institute for Research and Information in Education (DIPF) in Germany and two US organisations, the Educational Testing Service and the RAND corporation.

Further information can be found under TALIS Video Study.

  • Duration: 2016 - 2020 
  • Interational consortium: Prof. Dr. Darleen Opfer (RAND), Prof. Dr. Brian Stecher (RAND), Dr. Courtney Bell (ETS), Dr. Dan McCaffrey (ETS), Dr. Tom van Essen (ETS), Prof. Dr. Eckhard Klieme (DIPF), Prof. Dr. Anna-Katharina Praetorius (University of Zurich; associate scientist of the DIPF)

TALIS Video Study for Germany

The TALIS Video Study for Germany was a follow-up to the larger scale TALIS Video study. It was conducted by the DIPF as part of a research network. The study focused on 85 secondary level 1 mathematics classes while they were being taught quadratic equations. Classes on this topic were recorded on video and assessed for several teaching quality dimensions. Achievement tests and student and teacher surveys were also used. The aim of the study was to take a closer look at teaching processes and to relate them to the learning achievements of pupils.

Further information can be found under TALIS-Video Study for Germany.

  • Duration: 2017 - 2019
  • Project management: Prof. Dr. Eckhard Klieme (DIPF), Dr. Juliane Grünkorn (DIPF), Prof. Dr. Anna-Katharina Praetorius (University of Zurich)
  • Project team: Patrick Schreyer (DIPF), Julia Käfer (DIPF), Benjamin Herbert (DIPF)

Leibniz network on instructional research

The network, which is supported by the Leibniz Association, is an interdisciplinary circle of researchers interested in teaching. They work together on current challenges in teaching research. The network members hold doctorates in a range of disciplines such as such as educational science, educational psychology, mathematical didactics, and psychometry from a number of institutions.

Further information can be found under Leibniz network on instructional research.

  • Scientific Coordination: Prof. Dr. Eckhard Klieme (DIPF), Prof. Dr. Anna-Katharina Praetorius (University of Zurich), Dr. Juliane Grünkorn (DIPF)

Triangulation Instruction (Tri-U)

The Triangulation Instruction (Tri-U) project investigated the processes involved in the ways German pupils are taught quadratic equations using two methodological approaches. In three classes in Berlin, quantitative and qualitative methods of video analysis were used in concert. In the quantitative approach, different teaching quality dimensions were assessed using highly inferential ratings. The qualitative approach involved the evaluation of pedagogical-phenomenological videography. The results of the two methodological approaches were compared to each other in the context of cognitive activation in the classroom.

Further information can be found under Triangulation Instruction (Tri-U).

  • Duration: 2018 - 2019
  • Project management: Prof. Dr. Anna-Katharina Praetorius (University of Zurich), Prof. Dr. Malte Brinkmann (HU Berlin)
  • Project team: Wida Rogh (University of Zurich), Johannes Türstig (HU Berlin), Martin Weber-Spanknebel (HU Berlin)

Development of a subject-independent instrument for a video-based classification of metacognitive-discursive instructional quality

The aim of the project was to develop a coding and rating instrument for capturing metacognitive-discursive teaching quality. The instrument not only recorded the teacher's metacognitive stimuli, but also the discursive quality of teaching and the learners’ metacognitive activities.

Further information can be found under MeDUQua.

  • Duration: 2015 - 2017
  • Project management: Prof. Dr. Frank Lipowsky (University of Kassel), Prof. Dr. Elmar Cohors-Fresenborg (Osnabrück University), Prof. Dr. Anna-Katharina Praetorius (University of Zurich), Dr. Edyta Nowinska (Osnabrück University), Prof. Dr. Martina Blasberg-Kuhnke (Osnabrück University), Prof. Dr. Meik Zülsdorf-Kersting (University of Oldenburg)