EviDenk - Analyzing and promoting evidence-based reasoning and teaching in pre-service teachers

  • Start date: 01.07.2018
  • Funded by: DFG (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft)
  • Principal investigator: Prof. Dr. Ingo Kollar
  • Participating researchers: Dr. Martin Greisel, Christina Wekerle, M.A.
  • External scientists / cooperations: Prof. Dr. Robin Stark, Dr. Kai Wagner



Solving pedagogical problems on the basis of scientific theories and research findings is referred to as evidence-based reasoning and teaching (Stark, 2017). Research on both pre- and in-service teachers shows that both groups often have extreme difficulties engaging in this kind of practice. In cooperation with the University of the Saarland (Prof. Dr. Robin Stark), this project contrasts the cognitive processes and activities making up the evidence-based reasoning scripts (Schank, 1999) of pre- and in-service teachers, as well as educational researchers. We seek to detect those processes and activities that characterise an effective (cognitive) evidence-based reasoning script. Based on these findings, two further studies investigate different concepts for fostering these scripts (e.g. specific kinds of presentations, format of scientific evidence, as well as process- and reflection-prompts).


Teachers face a variety of pedagogical challenges in their classrooms, e.g. motivating disengaged students, catering for students with different cognitive, motivational and ethnic preconditions or assessing learning gains and achievement in an objective, reliable and valid way. Increasingly, teachers are demanded to solve these problems in an “evidence-based” manner (e.g. Bromme, Prenzel & Jäger, 2014). Decisions for a certain course of action ought not to be based on “gut-feeling”, but instead firmly grounded in scientific research and evidence (KMK, 2004).

However, what is currently still a black box is the question of what extent university-based teacher education supports pre-service teachers in the development of evidence-based reasoning and teaching skills. So far, research has demonstrated deficits in pre-service teachers’ use of scientific findings (e.g. Wagner, Klein, Klopp, & Stark, 2014) which are in part connected to unfavourable beliefs and motivational orientations (e.g. Parr & Timperley, 2008) or the available knowledge-based (e.g. Star & Strickland, 2008). Consequently, in many instances pre-service teachers fall back on subjective theories (e.g. Furinghetti & Pehkonen, 2002) to address pedagogical problems.

Given this situation, the project investigates further into the reasons behind this lack of evidence-based reasoning in pre-service teachers. In contrast to previous research, we address this endeavour in a two-fold way: on the plain of cognitive processes, we apply a script perspective (Schank, 1999) and investigate the cognitive activities of pre- and in-service teachers, as well as educational researchers when solving pedagogical problems, using contrastive analyses. On the plain of content, the type (scientific vs. experiential) and amount of knowledge used to address the problems is analysed (Study 1).

In Studies 2 and 3, we use experimental designs to explore the benefits of different support mechanisms (specific presentation formats of scientific evidence, process- and reflection-prompts) to foster evidence-based reasoning with regard to both plains and develop effective evidence-based reasoning scripts in students.



Further project members:

Tugce Bozkus (student research assistent)

Jessica Gröninger (student research assistant)

Sarah Hell (student research assistant)

Elisabeth Schuster (student research assistant)




Funded by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, DFG, KO 3462/3-1)








Assistant professor
Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences
PhD student
Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences