KuL: "Competence acquisition and learning preconditions"

The project "Competence acquisition and learning preconditions" (in German: "Kompetenzerwerb und Lernvoraussetzungen", KuL) deals with what takes place during lessons in primary schools. Which preconditions connected with learning do children bring with them when they start primary school? How do teachers arrange lessons in diverse classrooms? Which conditions support beneficial relationships and are important for a fruitful contact? Which kinds of pupil-teacher-interactions support learning processes and the acquisition of competencies?

To answer these questions, we will consider school-related as well as non-school-related factors. Among those factors not related to the schools are various individual preconditions, such as the resources within families. We assume that they vary across different social or ethnic backgrounds.  With regard to school-related factors we focus on the interaction between children and teachers. Here, aspects such as classroom management, teaching structure, classroom climate and teachers’ expectations and judgements are important dimensions.

In order to identify the processes underlying the acquisition of competencies during lessons we have planned longitudinal inquiries in 30 primary schools in Essen, a middle-size city in the west of Germany. The sample will contain about 800 children from about 60 classes. Seven steps of data acquisition will take place during the first year of school.

Survey Phases

 

In the first phase – at the beginning of the school term – the parents will be interviewed via telephone in order to detect the learning preconditions at home. In addition we plan to test the cognitive abilities of the children and their subject-specific competencies in linguistic and mathematic fields. Furthermore the teachers will be interviewed in written form about their expectations and estimations of the pupils.

 

 

In the second phase, which also takes place during the first school year, selected lessons will be filmed. In that way information will be gathered about the pupils’ behavior and their interaction with the teachers within everyday school surroundings. In addition to the videography the children will be interviewed. Among other things data will be collected of the pupils’ motivation for academic learning, of their self-perspective in terms of abilities as well as of their perception of the interaction with their teachers.

 

 

Finally we will, at the end of the school term, test the pupils’ state of knowledge again and inquire the teachers’ estimations and expectations. In this way we seek to gain information about changes over a period of time.

 

In the long term it is planned to follow the progress of ability development up to the choice of secondary school at the end of primary school. Therefore repeated competence tests and another interview of the parents are planned. This part of the study, which focuses on the fourth grade, is not part of this current period of approval by the BMBF.

Funding Agency

BMBF (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung)