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National Educational Panel Study: Competency Development over the Lifespan

The National Educational Panel Study (NEPS) which was launched in October 2008, examines the competences of people in different age groups longitudinally across the lifespan. The age range considered in the study ranges from Kindergarten age to late adulthood. The study is carried out on behalf of the BMBF by an interdisciplinary, Germany-wide network under the leadership of the Leibniz Institute for Educational Conduct (LIfBi) at the Otto Friedrich University of Bamberg. The IPN is part of this network and represents the research area competences in the fields of mathematical competence, scientific literacy and computer literacy.

The aim of the National Educational Panel is to collect longitudinal data on competence developments, educational processes, educational choices and educational returns in formal, non-formal and informal contexts across the life span. The NEPS data will be made available to the national and international scientific community as soon as possible in the form of Scientific Use Files (SUF). This data contains great potential for various disciplines (such as demography, education, economics, psychology, sociology) relevant to education and training to learn more about educational attainment and its implications for individual educational processes and to describe and analyze key educational processes.



NEPS is divided into several research areas, which are assigned to the departments of the LIfBi as follows:

Department 1: Competences, personality, learning environments

Department 2: Educational choices and social inequality, migration, educational returns

Department 3: Research data center (FDZ), method development and software development.

The examined age levels cover the lifespan starting at the age of 6 months through Kindergarten, school, vocational training and university up to late adulthood.

The aim of the research area competences is to develop competence models and test instruments for the longitudinal competence measurement across the life span.

The National Educational Panel, collects representative data for all relevant areas of the German education system to handle a wide range of questions concerning empirical education research and teaching-learning research.

Scientific Use Files are already available for this purpose for all NEPS cohorts. Meanwhile, longitudinal data are available over several waves (measurement times).


The following people from the IPN are involved in the study:

Head of research area: Competence development across the lifespan
Prof. Dr. Olaf Köller

Operational Management, Kiel:
Dr. Inga Hahn

Mathematical Competence:
Dr. David Bednorz
Tessa Beyer

Prof. Dr. Aiso Heinze

Anna-Lena Kock
Lara Petersen

Scientific Literacy:
Dr. Inga Hahn
Jana Kähler

Computer Literacy:
Dr. Martin Senkbeil (member of the consortium)
Dr. Jan Marten Ihme

IPN Item development group:
Biology Education: Sebastian Opitz, Dirk Mittenzwei
Chemistry Education: Sascha Bernholt
Physics Education: Mirjam Glessmer, Kristin Fiedler

External item developers:
Ulrike Taege, OStR’ a.D. (Biology and Chemistry)
Renate Graetsch, Schulleiterin a.D. (Primary education)
Wladimir Wagner (Physics)