Fields of Research

We use the familiar didactic triangle to visualize the constitutive research idea of the Graduate School. The traditional version of the didactic triangle focuses on the teacher, the students, and the subject matter. In contrast, we supplement the traditional triangle with a further, more comprehensive triangle focusing on the relationships between the constituents of the traditional triangle. This additional focus brings the practical and situational processes of teaching into view. We understand school learning as an interplay of practices of structuring, task processing and interaction organization. In this perspective, ‘teachers’, ‘students’ and ‘objects of instruction’ appear less as starting points than as participants in an instructional process. At the same time the instructional process also produces the forms of participation. Such a praxeologically reformulated didactic triangle can be differentiated subject-specifically (with regard to mathematics and German lessons) to design both the (possible) specifics of subject learning and a general comparison.

Grafik Doppeltes Dreieck

Das Schaubild visualisiert die grundlegenden Untersuchungsgegenstände des Kollegs als Forschungsfelder.

  1. The practices of interaction organization are exemplified by the way in which teachers and students interact and refer to each other. The difference in these interaction roles is that ‘teaching’ consists of mediation and appropriation. The implementation of classroom interaction comprises on the one hand of general features of the interactional order among those present (Vanderstraeten 2001) and is directed towards stabilization, activation or maintenance of the interaction. However, the interactive production and regulation of the classroom order remains constitutively related to the object and forms of subject learning, provided that the organizational purpose of the interaction is to enable subject learning. To do this, the classroom interaction must establish participatory structures that enable participants to be activated and “learning” to be represented (Breidenstein 2010; Herzmann 2018). This research field focuses on the connection between different interaction and participation formats and the generation and transmission of professional knowledge. At the same time, the research aims to identify indicators of the quality and intensity of teaching in features of classroom interaction: What are criteria for ‘successful’ teacher-student interactions in terms of subject matter learning?
  2. The practices of structuring, through which teachers select, tailor, and situate contentor problems for the classroom, shape the subject matter and determine the formthat the subject matter addresses and the instructional interaction. Such structuring practices are located in the diagram between the teacher and the subject matter, but they can of course also involve students. These practices are often embedded in teaching materials used in the classroom and thus ‘delegated’ to objects (Lange 2017). The practices of structuring remain related to the opposite pole of the learners in the triangle, insofar as they design the object of instruction in relation to the addressee and often with implicit or explicit practices of diagnostics and differentiation. The field of research focuses on what form the ‘object’ of instruction takes in the practices of its structuring:

    What ‘adjustment’ does the object undergo through its didacticization and ‘treatment’ in the classroom (Gruschka 2009)? Against the background of the principal difference between lesson planning and lesson implementation, it is also important to examine how lesson planning and ongoing lesson activities are related and how those involved deal with contingent developments and situational demands. How does one try to establish the “adaptability” of teaching in the interactive implementation?

  3. The third field refers to the practices of task processing, insofar as the students are usually confronted with the subject matter in the form of tasks. This can be a matter of answering teacher questions in the context of a class discussion, or it is a matter of processing more open and more closed work assignments as “independently” as possible. Practices of task processing are characterized by routinization and an orientation towards pragmatics and efficiency – even at primary school age (Breidenstein & Rademacher 2017; Lipowsky & Lotz 2015). In addition, the orientation to peers and to the relevance of peer culture almost always plays a role in students’ behavior (De Boer & Deckert-Peaceman 2009). The practices of task processing remain related to teacher action insofar as the teacher remains the center of assistance, control, and assessment – even in largely individualized and decentralized instruction. Central questions refer to the relationship between challenge and routine in dealing with learning materials and tasks: What forms of routinization and pragmatics of processing do the tasks suggest? How can routines of task processing be disrupted and challenged? How does the teacher support the processing of tasks?

The research fields represent a first heuristic allowing an initial classification of research perspectives and objects, and a variety of points of contact and overlaps.

The questions and problems of all three research fields remain closely related, since the forms and conditions of situated learning can ultimately only be grasped as an interplay of practices of structuring, task processing, and interaction organization. The didactic triangle reformulated in praxeological terms also allows for a link to the three dimensions of Hamre et al.’s (2013) “teaching through interaction” model or to the three “generic basic dimensions of teaching quality” (Klieme 2019; Praetorius et al. 2020). However, these ‘basic dimensions’ emerging in standardized classroom research are determined more by qualities of teacher action than by the interplay of instructional practices. In particular, the basic dimension of ‘cognitive activation’, which describes the content-related quality of teaching, should be differentiated in technical terms (Lindmeier & Heinze 2020). Moreover, for ‘effective classroom management’ and ‘constructive support’ it has to be asked whether and, if so, how they can be specified in terms of subject didactics.

Breidenstein, G., & Rademacher, S. (2017). Individualisierung und Kontrolle. Empirische Analysen zum geöffneten Unterricht in der Grundschule. Wiesbaden: Springer VS.

Breidenstein, G. (2010). Überlegungen zu einer Theorie des Unterrichts. Zeitschrift für Pädagogik, 56(6), 869–887.

De Boer, H., & Deckert-Peaceman, H. (Hrsg.) (2009). Kinder in der Schule. Zwischen Gleichaltrigenkultur und schulischer Ordnung. Wiesbaden: Springer VS.

Gruschka, A. (2009). Erkenntnis in und durch Unterricht. Empirische Studien zur Bedeutung der Erkenntnis- und Wissenschaftstheorie für die Didaktik. Wetzlar: Büchse der Pandora.

Hamre, B. K., Pianta, R.C., Downer, J. T., DeCoster, J., Mashburn, A. J., Jones, S. M., & Brackett, M. A. (2013). Teaching through Interactions: Testing a Developmental Framework of Teacher Effectiveness in over 4,000 Classrooms. The Elementary School Journal, 113(4), 461–487.

Herzmann, P. (2018). Lernen sichtbar machen. In M. Proske & K. Rabenstein (Hrsg.), Kompendium Qualitative Unterrichtsforschung. Unterricht beobachten – beschreiben – rekonstruieren (S. 171–188). Bad Heilbrunn: Klinkhardt.

Klieme, E. (2019). Unterrichtsqualität. In M. Gläser-Zikuda, M. Harring & C. Rohlfs (Hrsg.), Handbuch Schulpädagogik (S. 393–408). Stuttgart: UTB.

Lange, J. (2017). Schulische Materialität. Empirische Studien zur Bildungswirtschaft (Qualitative Soziologie, Bd. 23). Berlin: De Gruyter Oldenburg.

Lindmeier, A., & Heinze, A. (2020). Die fachdidaktische Perspektive in der Unterrichtsqualitätsforschung: (bisher) ignoriert, implizit enthalten oder nicht relevant? Zeitschrift für Pädagogik, 66, 255–267.

Lipowsky, F., & Lotz, M. (2015). Ist Individualisierung der Königsweg zum Lernen? Eine Auseinandersetzung mit Theorien, Konzepten und empirischen Befunden. In G. Mehlhorn, F. Schulz & K. Schöppe (Hrsg.), Begabungen entwickeln & Kreativität fördern (S. 155–219). München: kopaed.

Praetorius, A.-K., Klieme, E., Kleickmann, T., Brunner, E., Lindmeier, A., Taut, S., & Charalambous, C. (2020). Towards Developing a Theory of Generic Teaching Quality. Zeitschrift für Pädagogik, 66, 15–36.

Vanderstraeten, R. (2001). The School Class as an Interaction Order. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 22(2), 267–277.