Returns on investment in education and educational pathways
This research theme focuses on consequences of decisions made in education, acquired competencies and certifications in relation to mid-term and long-term returns on investment in education.
Successful development across the lifespan depends on individual personal characteristics as well as the environment, as determined by relevant personal liaisons and social institutions. The relative importance of personal characteristics and contexts varies according to stages in life and areas of human development.
For instance, parents play an important role in their children’s early years and beginning adolescence. Throughout adolescence however, other people gain increasing importance and in the course of adulthood, parental influence can even disappear completely. Regarding the domain of learning at school and at a more general level, cognitive development at large, the social institution of schools plays an important (or even the key) role throughout childhood and early adolescence. Moreover, schools bear an impact on the formation and development of self-related cognition, interests and motivation, attitude and other character traits and social relations, thus they affect the development of children and young people. School is also the crucial institution regarding the certification of skills acquired by individuals, e.g. in the areas of reading, foreign languages, mathematics or the sciences. In due course, school as an institution is supplemented by the transition to vocational education and training and employment respectively replaced by other institutions, e.g. university and employer.
Taking the entire course of life into perspective, individual educational pathways are analysed against the background of social and institutional structures. Such a complex interplay between individuals and their contexts across a lifespan is ideally (albeit not exclusively) analysed and described on the basis of longitudinal data. At a theoretical level, such a research design requires a linkage of theories from different disciplines, not only educational research and educational psychology, but also taking other domains into account, e.g. developmental psychology and differential psychology, social sciences and economics.