Schools in Times of Change (SchiWa)

Schools in times of change (SchiWa), initially funded as part of a quality-controlled DIPF internal competition and now supported by DFG, is a project consisting of various sub-studies for the systematic and historical investigation of changes in the school system. The starting point for the investigation was Helmut Fend's comprehensive school studies from the 1970s.

Project Description

The project "Schools in Times of Change" started in July 2013 and is composed of four studies:

  1. Processing and reanalyzing of Helmut Fend's three-state study (data from 1978 and 1979 evaluating comprehensive schools in Lower Saxony, Hesse and North Rhine-Westphalia),
  2. Contemporary historical study on the change of pedagogical and school-political discourses and practices using the example of the area experiment with comprehensive schools in the Hessian district of Wetzlar,
  3. Preliminary study for a follow-up of the Fend study at ten schools in Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate.
  4. A renewed survey of the schools formerly involved in the Fend study in order to trace the changes in teaching and school cultures, supplemented by a contemporary history analyses.

In the first study, which was conducted by the Department Teacher and Teaching Quality (TTQ) in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Tobias Feldhoff (Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, JGU), the data of Helmut Fend's three-state study were reconstructed and new scalings as well as analyses of effects of school and teaching quality were conducted using today's methodological standards and software (e.g., IRT scaling, multilevel analyses).

The second study, designed by Prof. Dr. Sabine Reh (BBF), is a contemporary-historical analysis of changes in pedagogical and school policy discourses and practices using the example of the area experiment with comprehensive schools in the Hessian district of Wetzlar. The district of Wetzlar was of particular scholarly interest in the context of the Fend study because the comprehensive school was introduced there on a comprehensive basis in 1971, i.e., all lower secondary schools were converted into comprehensive schools.

The third study consists of a new survey, which was again realized in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Tobias Feldhoff (JGU) at the beginning of 2017 at ten schools in Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate. Selected instruments developed by Fend in the context of the three-state study were used again to test the extent to which they still meet the quality criteria in use today. Initial analyses provided information about possible changes in teachers' attitudes and practices in dealing with students over the past 40 years.

The fourth study is a DFG (German Research Foundation) funded project by Prof. Dr. Sabine Reh (BBF) and Prof. Dr. Eckhard Klieme (Department of Teacher and Teaching Quality – TTQ) in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Tobias Feldhoff (JGU). It aims to contribute to the history of school and teaching in the context of Germany's recent history. The central question is to what extent and in what way the cultures of school and teaching have changed between the 1970s and the 2020s. The project seeks. to make visible and to reflect the changes in the culture of schooling and teaching, from the motivation and learning behavior of pupils, to the values and standards of teaching, to the relations between all school actors, to the design of learning and forms of working, and to school life in general.

The starting point for the study is Helmut Fend's "Drei-Länder-Studie" (DLS), conducted in 1978/79 at comprehensive schools in Hesse, Lower Saxony and North Rhine-Westphalia, in which the attitudes of teachers and students toward school and teaching as well as the achievement of students were recorded in a very differentiated way. These data are now to be compared with data from a follow-up study (FUS) planned for 2023. The FUS will be based on voluntary and anonymous questionnaires and tests at schools from the earlier study. The change in the shaping of school relations and norms as well as pedagogical practices and knowledge orders that may be uncovered here will then be historically contextualised within the framework of school-historical case studies. This can not only help to concretise and expand German social and cultural history "after the boom", means since the 1970s, in terms of educational and school history, but also contribute to an understanding of the functioning of the social institution of school – a prerequisite also for the future design and further development of school and teaching.



The preliminary studies were funded by DIPF, as part of a competition for the strategetic developement of the DIPF departments, using overhead means. The fourth studies is a DFG project.

Project Management

Project Team at BBF

Project Details

Project type: Third-Party Funded Project
Current project
07/2013 – 10/2025
Research field: Pedagogical Knowledge – Institutions, Practices and Actors
Contact: Julia Kurig