How can children receive optimal support in their development? What risks exist concerning their learning achievement, for example regarding children with learning disorders, ADHD or immigrant children? How do carers and teachers cope with the growing heterogeneity in children’s day-care institutions and schools? What learning measures are promising with respect to providing support to children that is adapted to their individual needs?

IDeA (Individual Development and Adaptive Education of Children at Risk) is an interdisciplinary research centre in Frankfurt/Main, founded in 2008 subject to funding from the LOEWE initiative by the federal state of Hesse. Its founding institutions are the DIPF | Leibniz Institute for Research and Information in Education, the Goethe University Frankfurt and the Frankfurt Sigmund-Freud-Institute. Members of the centre contribute their expertise from the fields of psychology, educational science, psycholinguistics, neuroscience, diverse subject didactics, sociology and psychoanalysis.

IDeA focuses on empirical studies of children at infancy, pre-school and primary school age who for different reasons – e.g. (neuro)cognitive or socio-emotional – bear a higher risk of impairment with respect to cognitive abilities required at school.

Research activities are carried out in three themes: Individual Development focuses on developmental and learning processes of children. Adaptive Education is concerned with the identification of children's specific living and learning conditions and determine the extent to which educational programmes take these contexts into consideration. Projects in the research theme of Professionalization explore the competencies, orientations, and attitudes of educators and teachers in daycare facilities, kindergartens, and elementary schools.

The IDeA lab offers its researchers facilities and personnel to support a wide variety of behavioral and neurocognitive studies.

The IDeA Centre is co-ordinated and administrated at the DIPF | Leibniz Institute for Research and Information in Education.
Scientific coordinator: Prof. Dr. Florian Schmiedek
Head of IDeA coordination: Dr. Jeanette Ziehm
Head of IDeA lab: Dr. Björn Rump

Selected IDeA projects at DIPF

The project BiLTex examined potential differences between bilingual and monolingual learning environments for promoting text comprehension. While in monolingual learning environments all information and actions are presented or occur in German, bilingual learning environments implement heritage languages systematically. BiLTex investigated whether the inclusion of the heritage language has a positive effect on text comprehension and the learning experience in general for bilingual children.

How can educational researchers, school practitioners and teacher educators in Frankfurt collaborate and benefit from each other with a long-term perspective? In the Campus Schools Program, we are establishing a cooperative school program with schools from Frankfurt and the surrounding area. The central aims of the Campus Schools Program are the development of an infrastructure for sustainable collaboration between research, teacher education, and school practice, as well the implementation of different services, so that participants from the central educational institutions in Frankfurt can collaborate.

In the project DiaS-K, preschool teachers and doctors who carry out school entry examinations are to be interviewed in order to find out what instruments for diagnosing self-regulation in preschool age must look like so that they are usable for practitioners.

The project EAGLeS examines 5th and 6th graders’ acquisition of English as a foreign language literacy (reading, spelling, grammar) competencies. We are looking for systematic differences between students with poor native German literacy competencies and their non-afflicted peers.

The EiKlar project investigates learning processes using neurophysiological measures. The aim of the project is to gain a better understanding of learning processes inside the classroom.

We analyze the effectiveness of self-regulation training by means of meta-analysis and systematic review. The focus of the meta-analyses is on different training characteristics (e.g., use of learning diaries) and on diverse target groups (e.g., learners with ADHD).

The project FePrax examines the implementation of diagnostic practice in the field of special needs education focusing on the enhancement foci of "learning", "language", "emotional and social development", "mental development", and "autism spectrum disorder" in five federal states of Germany.

The Project FLINK aims at investigating a computerized reading fluency training for children with average and below average reading proficiency in Grades 3 and 4. Up to 54 training sessions are offered within a school year. FLINK will be accompanied by regularly administered learning diagnostics, can be presented in group settings and handled mostly autonomously by the participants.

Gamification is the application of game-design elements and game principles in non-game contexts. The project Gamified Assessment investigates the role of gamification elements in testing situations.

The project GeoChild investigated how basic geometrical skills develop and how they may be trained successfully in kindergarten. The project examined which prerequisites corroborate the acquisition of basic geometrical competences such as identifying and categorizing geometrical forms as well as navigating through physical space, as well as evaluated how these competences may be trained effectively in early childhood education.

Hector Children’s Academies are extracurricular institutions that offer support to gifted children under the age of ten; they endorse a holistic approach. The aim of the project is a scientific monitoring of the support program. This includes the support of the implementation, the evaluation of the courses offered, the investigation of related scientific questions and the qualification of the coordinators of the Hector Children's Academies.

In the INCLASS project, three tools are being developed to support school staff in mainstream schools in implementing autism-sensitive inclusive teaching: a digital training platform and a self-assessment tool, as well as a smartphone app to identify individual barriers of individual autistic children.

The focus of the project LeA-Training was to investigate a reading fluency training programme. The project aimed at identifying the underlying mechanisms resulting in reading improvement to effectively implement the training for children with reading difficulties.

The LEGA study investigates the use of reading strategies applied by elementary school children. Strategy usage is compared across grades and related to available vocabulary and contextual information. The aim of the study is to understand more about the conditions under which efficient (retrieval-) strategies, which are essential for fluent reading, are used and how this usage can be supported.

The research project MORAL investigates the socio-moral development of children and adolescents with a strong focus on intergroup processes and social cognition. Another focus of the project is the training of educators and teachers regarding social exclusion among children and adolescents.

The Project MotivO aims at investigating and comparing motivational aspects of reading achievement across orthographies (German vs. Hebrew). Within the context of a cooperation project, German and Israeli 2nd and 4th Graders will be compared regarding their reading motivation and reading achievement in a cross-language research design to detect positive or negative feelings towards reading as well as changes across time.

The project aims to investigate the effectiveness of teaching units for primary school science classrooms which integrate the use of digital media. In this scope, we examine (1) whether the digital media can be used effectively to support science learning as well as to activate self-regulation of learning, and (2) whether the additional implementation of adaptive elements can particularly support at risk students.

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IDeA – A center of DIPF and Goethe-University in cooperation with the Sigmund-Freud-Institut Frankfurt/M.

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