YEAR 2020

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Online and International: Review of the 5th NEPS Conference


The 5th International NEPS Conference of the Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBi) took place on December 7 and 8, 2020. Around 300 participants from 11 different countries met – for the first time in a purely online event format. In her keynote speech, Director of LIfBi and Project Leader of NEPS, Prof. Dr. Cordula Artelt, looked back on the first 10 years of the education panel. Guest speaker was Prof. DPhil Michelle Jackson from Stanford University on the topic "Is Socioeconomic Inequality Fundamental?". In addition, the "NEPS Publication Award" was presented for outstanding papers based on NEPS data.


In her keynote speech, Cordula Artelt looked back on the past ten years of the study, milestones and successes. To date, 141 main surveys have been conducted. Data, in the form of 73 scientific-use files, have been obtained free of charge by more than 2,500 research data users from 31 countries and is used for research purposes. In her outlook on future developments, she particularly highlighted the potential of the new Start Cohort 8, which will integrate a new generation of fifth-grade students into NEPS starting in 2022.

Michelle Jackson presented reflections on the use of the Fundamental Causes Theory (FCT) in the analysis of educational inequalities in her guest lecture, which was also the annual finale of the LIfBi Lectures series. FCT plays a particularly significant role in the field of health inequality, but little in other disciplines. According to Jackson, research in the field of educational inequality in particular would benefit from adopting FC approach. According to her, the theory offers three key advantages: First, it has a clear set of propositions, it is falsifiable, and it is able to demonstrate the extent of theoretical consensus in the field of educational inequality research. Second, a FC appoach would require greater attention to the quality of measurement instruments. Finally, it could help researchers to predict the effects of educational interventions more precisely.

  • Read more about Michelle Jackson's research on her Website

The NEPS Publication Award, which comes with a €1,000 prize, was split this year due to the high quality of the many nominations. The article "Comparing Apples and Oranges: Curricular Intensification Reforms Can Change the Meaning of Students' Grades!" by Nicolas Hübner, Wolfgang Wagner, Benjamin Nagengast (all University of Tübingen), Jan Hochweber (PH St. Gallen), and Marko Neumann (DIPF Frankfurt/Main), published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, was awarded. Thomas Zimmermann (Goethe University Frankfurt/Main) received the award for his analyses on "Social Influence or Rational Choice? Two Models and Their Contribution to Explaining Class Differentials in Student Educational Aspirations", which appeared in the European Sociological Review.

In addition, the poster "Heading for New Shores: Moving From Traditional to Modern Paradigm of Teacher Professional Development" by Florian Bühler, Nicolas Hübner, Christian Fischer and Kathleen Stürmer (University of Tübingen) was awarded as the best poster of the conference with a prize money of €250.

  • An abstract of "Comparing Apples and Oranges" has been published in the series NEPS Ergebnisse kompakt. Abstracts for both award-winning publications can also be found here.

In 15 sessions with three presentations each, at ten poster presentations, and at a virtual "roundtable with the Research Data Center," participants exchanged ideas on a variety of topics in empirical educational research ranging from early childhood competence development to the returns to adult education. Methodological approaches and survey instruments were discussed as well as results of recent surveys, for example on the consequences of the Corona Lockdown in Germany. A special focus of the presentations was the question of the consequences of digitization for educational processes and an appropriate operationalization of related constructs.