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Individual developmental trajectories and institutional contexts across the lifespan

The research group on “Individual developmental trajectories and institutional contexts across the lifespan” is a collaborative project designed to run six years, established by DIPF and IPN Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education. The team of researchers will primarily be focusing on the analyses of existing datasets from empirical educational research, striving for a comprehensive and overarching perspective on findings and integrating them.

Project description

Thematically, the group of researchers will focus on a longitudinal perspective on educational processes and trajectories ranging from adolescence to adulthood.

On the one hand, a descriptive perspective is involved: how do individuals change, and how do developmental trajectories proceed in different areas of life. What can be said regarding different groups? In how far are developments similar across different learning contexts and school types, and how do they differ? On the other hand, taking an explanatory perspective, the team will investigate the role of individual variables and institutional contexts. Given the question of gender: are differences between boys and girls reinforced during secondary school, and if divergent developments can be described, are these patterns “general” or do institutional contexts such as German secondary school tracks come into effect?

Researchers in the group will most of all work on secondary analyses. They will be less dedicated to ascertaining data anew but explore existing data from the above described perspectives. The goal is to find out interrelations and, at best, causal relations across longer periods of time, between different individual areas, and taking different levels of analysis into account (individual, classroom, school level, school systems). Longitudinal analyses are particularly useful in this regard.

Diverse research topics emerge following this broad perspective. At the core, they target the generalizability and scope of correlations and effects. Generally speaking, we know a lot given a specific point in time in an educational biography while the relevance of local phenomena for the wider development of an individual educational biography has often not been sufficiently clarified. For example, we know that secondary school tracking can have strong immediate effects e.g. relating to the self-perception of skills and development of competencies. Yet, it remains far less clear how these are conveyed across educational stages, and whether it is possible to catch up on developments that were omitted at one point in time. The group will pay particular attention to these aspects.



The group represents a joint activity of DIPF and  IPN in Kiel. At DIPF, the group is rooted in the Department of Educational Structure and Governance; a co-operation is planned with the Department of Education and Human Development . At IPN, the group co-operates with the Department of Educational Research/Educational Assessment and Measurement, chaired by Olaf Köller.


The group is jointly funded by DIPF and IPN.

Project management

Michael Becker

Project team

Project details

Current projects
Project type: Interdepartmental projects
September 2015 - August 2021
Contact: Michael Becker
last modified Oct 06, 2016