The department analyses individual and differential developmental processes in both formal and non-formal learning environments, adding an individual perspective to the DIPF’s scope of research.


The department focuses on the individual development of children in educational contexts. In the field of basic research, the crucial issue concerns individual prerequisites and conditions necessary for the development of successful learning, such as motivational and volitional dispositions as well as manifold cognitive competencies. Differential analyses of individual educational pathways are based on longitudinal studies.

In addition to the basic research of the department, practical applications focus on individual diagnostics and support in kindergarten and school: Diagnostic procedures are developed and standardised for assessing individual learning dispositions and learning disorders. Existing approaches of individual support programmes (e.g. acquistion of reading skills) and prevention of educational failure (e.g. language training) are evaluated. Part of our practical research is also designing and validating own approaches as well as the scientific monitoring of pilot projects.

The overall objective is to obtain theoretically and empirically based foundations for designing educational processes across the lifespan – with focus on early education – so that deeper insights can be gained into the potentials for development and the possibilities for changing individual behaviour and experiences.

Important activities in infrastructure and networking are brought together in the department:


Cognitive Development

For the development of learning, change processes at different time levels play a crucial role. Our lab investigates the multivariate dynamics of such processes with empirical studies on the intraindividual variability of cognitive performance and emotional wellbeing, as well as relevant determinants, in everyday and school contexts.

Development of Successful Learning

Particular difficulties in acquiring written language and mathematics increase the risk of children's educational failure. The diagnosis, prevention and overcoming of such learning and performance difficulties, e.g. through individual support, is a central part of the research in this department unit.

IDeA Labs

The IDeA Labs are part of the IDeA Centre, where the development of children with educational risks is empirically investigated. The lab structure includes facilities, testing equipment, as well as personnel and serves to support researchers in conducting behavior-based and neuroscientific studies.


At the IDeA Centre, the development and learning of children with educational risks is studied interdisciplinarily. The coordination is responsible for networking, public relations, events, membership promotion and administration of the centre and serves as a unit of the Scientific Board.

Individualised Interventions

We develop psychological interventions that improve children’s educational prospects. To this end, we research how children acquire knowledge and how this process can be promoted. And we develop technologies that help integrate interventions into everyday life and promote self-regulated learning.


Prof. Dr. Marcus Hasselhorn




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