The Research Unit ‘Learning Environments’ focuses on the conceptualization of learning opportunities over the entire life course in the context of lifespan developmental psychology and life course sociology: Learning environments are taken to be providers of learning opportunities, used by learners to acquire skills and competencies. Education thus incorporates two perspectives – that of the teacher and that of the learner.
Two fundamental framework models can be distinguished here:
(1) Accumulation of learning opportunities
Here, various formal, non-formal, and informal (in particular familial) learning environments form one dimension, with age and the accompanying education stages forming another, within which diverse learning opportunities can be embedded in different environments, both in parallel and compared over time.
(2) Quality of learning opportunities
The quality of learning opportunities is represented by way of an input-process-output model. The conditions of input are primarily the characteristics of the learning environment, and also the specific orientations of the actors involved. The output is manifested in competencies and all monetary and non-monetary educational returns. The central focus here is the conditions of the process, primarily located in the interactions between teachers and learners. There are distinct but interconnected basis dimensions which represent the quality of these processes: structurality, support, and challenge/activation.
The following projects are assigned to the Research Unit ‘Learning Environments’: