Long-Term Monitoring of Digital and Data-Related Competencies of the German Population

(DaLi | Data Literacy)


The Data Literacy project conducts a long-term monitoring of the digital and data-related skills of a representative sample of the German population and helps to understand how these skills develop. The project focusses on the central, fundamental knowledge and skills that people need to be able to competently use digital information and data in their everyday lives. Two central goals are pursued:


Long-term monitoring of representative samples of the German population: Measuring the digital and data-related competencies of the German population aged 10 to 69 using representative, recurring cross-sectional samples. This makes it possible to measure changes in knowledge levels, specific strengths and weaknesses, and their conditions over the years.


Individual longitudinal observation from the 6th grade: Observation of the individual development of digital and data literacy of young people from the 6th grade over a period of several school years. This allows observing individual development and identifying factors with regard to, for example, school, family, and their interplay that are beneficial or disadvantageous for a positive development of the competencies. Thus, starting points for interventions and relevant context factors can be obtained.


In the context of the digital transformation of our society, the term "data literacy" describes a person's ability to appropriately deal with digital data and information, to interpret it, to derive recommendations or principles for action from it, but also to be able to assess the risks of data collection and data using. Digital and data literacy  is a key factor in developing one's own scope for action, for civic engagement and for dealing with one's own and other people's data in a responsible manner. At the same time, data is a central resource for added value, which - in order to be used for individual and corporate purposes - requires corresponding competencies on the part of the users.


This large-scale project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the German government's data strategy and the Digital Education Initiative. Promoting the population's data skills is a central component of the data strategy and is intended, among other things, to help tailor future learning opportunities specifically to the needs of the population.


In the project, two research design are combined to enable data-based statements about the digital and data-related competencies of the German population as well as statements about the development of these competencies at the transition to adolescence.


On the one hand, a research design will be implemented that captures digital and data-related competencies for the German population in the form of representative, recurring cross-sectional surveys (4-year rhythm with new sampling each time). For this purpose, a representative random sample of 6,000 people between the ages of 10 and 69 will be repeatedly surveyed and tested.


In addition, an individual longitudinal approach will be used to specifically focus on secondary-level students, who will be surveyed and tested at two-year intervals starting in 2023. This approach will make it possible to draw conclusions about the development of digital and data-related skills among children and young people in secondary school and to understand individual prerequisites. Here, a sample of 5,000 children will be monitored from the 6th grade onwards from 2023.

Data collection and processing

During the project period, three sub-studies are planned as computer-assisted personal interviews in the household. The first point of data collection in the population-representative monitoring is planned for fall 2023. Surveys and competency tests of the 6,000 target participants will be computer-based, which, in addition to providing test and questionnaire scores, will also allow us to collect data on the participants‘ strategic approach with regard to task completion (log and process data).  Thus, supplementary information on on digital and data literacy will be available.


The first wave of the individual longitudinal study will take place  at the same time as the cross-sectional survey in 2023. The second wave is scheduled for fall 2025.


As part of the project, the collected data will be processed and analyzed. This includes:


  1. providing recurrently collected representative data on digital and data literacy of the population in Germany (10 - 69 years) and on the development of these competencies in secondary tier education by publishing scientific-use files;
  2. regular reporting on the key findings on the status of and changes in the digital and data-related competencies of the population of Germany as well as the accompanying publication of research findings in scientific journals;
  3. the transfer of the findings to science, politics and practice.

Project profile

  • Funding period: August 2021 – July 2026
  • Funding: German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)