Department Educational Psychology


Motivation development at primary school age and beyond

(Contact: Birgit Spinath )

Various motivational prerequisites for learning and achievement behaviour, such as intrinsic motivation, joy of learning, change unfavourably for most pupils in the course of their school years. The MeGa project investigates possible causes for this decline in motivation. To this end, several longitudinal studies on motivation development have been carried out, taking into account variables such as ability self-perceptions, implicit theories on intelligence and talent, conscientiousness and more.

Cognitive and motivational conditions of school success

(Contact: Birgit Spinath )

A central question in educational psychology concerns the interaction of different factors in explaining learning success or failure. For example, we do not yet have a sufficient understanding of the interaction of cognitive (e.g. intelligence) and motivational factors. We also know too little about the sources of inter-individual differences in learning and performance prerequisites and the extent to which these sources provide us with information about the influence of these factors. Several sub-projects of the work unit pursue these and similar questions.

Improving higher education teaching

(Contact: Birgit Spinath)

Educational psychology is concerned with the optimisation of teaching-learning processes. This also includes the improvement of teaching at universities. In the lecture "Introduction to Educational Psychology", research-based teaching is actively practised (cf. Spinath & Seifried, 2012; Spinath, Seifried & Eckert, 2016): For an evaluation and further development of the course, different data have been and are collected during the semester (e.g. (previous) knowledge, motivational prerequisites and student development). This is intended to continuously improve the course and at the same time to gain generalisable insights into teaching-learning processes.

Minimal Interventions

(Contact: Heike Dietrich ; Birgit Spinath )

Students’ motivation to actively and steadily participate in class and to look into school-related subjects is dependent on different influences. As such, assumptions about the malleability of personal characteristics, convictions about the usefulness of learning contents, and ideas about the person one wants to be in the future, play a pivotal role. Negative self-views can lead to permanent and serious impairments in scholastic achievement. With so-called “minimal interventions” (also “brief interventions” or “wise interventions”), psychology offers new approaches in dealing with negative psychological processes in a constructive manner. While the conduction requires rather little effort at participating schools, minimal interventions shall yet improve students’ educational outcomes and lead to long-lasting success. To date, various approaches have been developed and proven efficient in the U.S.. Aim of our research is to develop, test, and validate Minimal Interventions in Germany. First, we investigate what interventions are especially suited for German school environments. Second, we aim to develop a standardized program that is cost-efficient and scalable. Third, we aim to investigate whether beyond common intervention materials, additional media-related techniques that should be of high relevance for the targeted groups of students, can be used effectively.

Motivation in higher education

(Contact: Eva Bosch )

Motivation is an important predictor of academic success. However, initial studies have shown that the motivation to learn and achieve develops unfavourably during the course of the programme and also during the course of a semester. With the help of longitudinal studies, the development of student motivation and inter-individual differences in this development should be better understood. Possible explanations for this unfavourable development should also be investigated on this basis.