For the students, taking part in the largest longitudinal study of educational trajectories in Germany initially means mental work: they have to complete various tasks in the areas of reading and mathematics. Therefore, the fifth graders receive test booklets with tasks that were specially developed for the NEPS. These are then worked on class by class and within a specified time. The test is then followed by a questionnaire for all children, which is used, among other things, to survey digital usage habits and to ask questions about friendships, well-being or extracurricular activities. Instead of the usual paper form, there will be "questionnaires in the digital classroom". Each child will be provided with a laptop on which the surveys can be conducted digitally in the classroom. The software environment for this was developed over the past two years at the Leibniz Institute for Educational Trajectories (LIfBi).
In addition to the student, their teachers at the several hundred representatively selected schools will also be surveyed in the beginning of 2023. The focus here will be on issues such as the use of digital methods in the classroom, further education, collaboration within the teaching staff, and inclusion.
Linking with the IQB Trends and National Assessment Studies
A special feature of the current survey wave is the possibility of a double linkage of the NEPS data with the results of the IQB Trends and National Assessment Studies. These studies examine the extent to which students in Germany meet the educational standards that are mandatory in all German states and identify areas where action is needed. On the one hand, the linking of the two educational studies is used to make the values of the NEPS students also describable on the metric of the IQB Trends. On the other hand, by linking them at the school level, questions of school development from grade 5 to grade 9 can be addressed. This is made possible, among other things, by the fact that there is a certain correspondence between the participant groups (samples) of the IQB Trends and National Assessment Studies and the new starting cohort 8 of the NEPS.
What happens next
In one of the next survey rounds, which will start in winter 2022/23, the parents of the students will be interviewed. This is because the NEPS contains not only the data of the participants, but also that of their caregivers. In this way, the family and social background of the children can also be taken into account and provide important insights into the conditions of education in Germany.
A further survey of the students (wave 2) is planned for 2023/24. The survey mode will then change as the students' competency tests will also be computer-based and take place in the “digital classroom”. Students who have left the schools at the time of the second wave of the survey will also be followed up. They then switch from the school context to individual follow-up and thus remain part of the NEPS.
The first processed data sets on starting cohort 8 are expected in the second half of 2024. They will be made available to the research community by LIfBi's Research Data Center as scientific-use files in various degrees of anonymization.