Stereo-DiSk – Stereotypes as Obstacles for Professional Diagnostics in the Inclusive School Context

The project investigates the significance of stereotypes for the quality of special needs assessment and diagnostics in an inclusive school context and develops support programmes that reduce this influence.

Project Description

Practice and research show that stereotypes about learners with special educational needs (SEN) are widespread and also present among (prospective) teachers. Such stereotypes could be barriers to professional diagnosis if they lead to overlooking or overestimating certain information. The project examines stereotypes about children with SEN among student teachers. Simulated diagnostic situations will be used to examine the ways in which stereotypes influence the assessment of individual (students) with SEN. Finally, we will examine how the influence of stereotypes on the diagnostic process can be reduced. For this purpose – amongst other things – the effect of an intervention to reduce stereotypes and to promote diagnostic competence will be analysed.

Research Questions and Hypotheses

1) Do teacher stereotypes reduce the quality of the diagnostic process when assessing students with special educational needs (SEN)?

  1. The activation of stereotypes about certain SEN would lead student teachers to select more stereotype-conforming information for diagnosis.
  2. The activation of stereotypes put more emphasis on stereotype-conforming information.
  3. The activation of stereotypes reach a more negative result in the assessment of the respective students depending on the type of stereotype.

2) What are the individual differences in stereotype bias effects?

  1. Teachers with good knowledge of the respective SENs will experience less bias in the diagnostic process.
  2. Teachers with good knowledge of the respective SENs have fewer stereotypes overall regarding these student groups and that teachers with good diagnostic knowledge will experience less bias in the diagnostic process as they control activated stereotypes better.

Thus, both areas of professional knowledge should act as moderators for the hypothesized effect of stereotypes on the assessment process.

3) How can the influence of stereotypes on teachers' diagnostic behavior be reduced?

We hypothesize that the effect of stereotypes on the diagnostic process can be reduced by different interventions:

  1. an intervention that directly addresses the reduction of stereotypes by providing knowledge about the respective SEN and contact with relevant individuals
  2. an intervention that addresses the promotion of diagnostic competence in general by providing awareness of professional diagnostics
  3. an intervention that combines both areas and that is more effective than interventions that address only one of the two domains

Project Objectives

The goal is to learn more about how stereotypes in the diagnostic process work and to use this knowledge to develop support programmes that address these barriers.


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Project Management

Project Team

Project Details

Current projects
10/2021 – 09/2024
External funding
Department: Teacher and Teaching Quality
Contact: Charlotte Schell, Doctoral Candidate