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Repeat Success for IPN in the Non-University Excellence Initiative

8. December 2015

The Leibniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education (IPN) has once again been awarded the contract for a research project, which it applied for in a Leibniz Association competition. The three-year project, which is being funded with € 958 200, will focus on a selected group of students. The project: “Effects of natural science Competitions on Students“ analyses if the success or failure of those teenagers who participate in student competitions determines if a profession with a mathematical- natural science, resp. with a technical background will be chosen later when students focus on their future professional life.

Additionally, the project will determine to what extent such competitions awaken the interest of a broad body of students, and, at the same time, how these competitions can identify and systematically promote the most talented students.

It is well-known that young students who have successfully competed in a natural science competition will later choose a job that has something to so with natural sciences and that they will also produce excellent results in their field. On the flip side of these less successful careers, a distinct lack of qualified scientists in MINT (Mathematics, Informatics, Natural Sciences, Technology) subjects is still evident. A political consequence of this state of affairs is a serious endeavour to increase the number of participants in natural science student competitions. Hereby, the effects of competitions on the further development of participants are not known. Motivation research suggests that failure in this area can have negative consequences on student motivation. This can result in unsuccessful participants switching their interests to non-MINT subjects.

In the context of the project, it is intended to analyse ca. 8000 students over a period of three years. Professor Detlef Urhahne from Passau University will also be involved in this project. As a result of the close cooperation with the specialist educationalists at IPN, the institute offers an ideal research environment for carrying out the project.” Additionally, the institute has lot of previously researched theoretical and empirical material at hand from former research projects on school competitions which can be tapped into for the new enterprise,” stated Professor Olaf Köller, managing scientific director of IPN. For many years now, IPN has hosted six national natural science school competitions, namely, the Science Olympiads.


Dr Ute Ringelband
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