Prof. Dr. Matthias Nückles
Empirical teaching and school research
Department of Educational Science
Department of Educational Science
The ability to design instruction based on scientifically sound pedagogical and didactic principles is increasingly seen as a goal for the education of prospective teachers by both educational researchers and policymakers. In this context, reference is often made to the theory-practice gap, according to which the educational sciences (educational psychology, empirical teaching-learning research) have developed a large body of practice-relevant scientific knowledge, which, however, has so far hardly found its way into the teaching practice of teachers. The reasons for this problem are manifold. One main cause is the scarcity of university learning opportunities in the field of educational science, which leads to teachers making didactic decisions in everyday life mostly without recourse to the knowledge of teaching-learning research. Furthermore, there is a lack of a theoretical conception of evidence-based teaching and of the specific function of subject-specific, subject-didactic and educational science knowledge with regard to the planning and design of lessons.
From an epistemological perspective teaching can be conceptualized as complex problem solving (Lampert, 1985; Wegner, Anders, & Nückles, 2014). This means that when planning lessons, there are different didactic strategies to achieve a certain goal and a teacher must be able to weigh up which strategy or combination of strategies will prove to be the most effective. Yet, it is largely unexplored how the ability to make informed didactic decisions and how to justify them based on pedagogical principles and evidence can be taught to preservice teachers.
To this end, we developed a model of didactic reasoning that specifies different types of argumentative moves required to generate and justify didactic actions related to lesson planning. Our model is based on Toulmin’s model of argument (1958, 2003), draws on the philosophy of science (Bunge, 1966), and epistemological foundations of psychotherapy research (Perrez, 1989). Based on this model, we developed self-learning materials (e-portfolio tasks, modelling examples, tutorials) and test them in intervention studies with the aim of teaching didactic reasoning to preservice teachers.
Funding: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), second funding phase for the ‘Qualitätsoffensive Lehrerbildung’ in the framework of the joint research project FACE – Researching Practice, Practicing Research.
Schuba, C., & Nückles, M. (2020). “Teachers as informed pragmatists”: Supporting preservice history teachers’ didactic reasoning by argumentative writing [Paper presentation]. Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Francisco, CA, United States of America.
Nückles, M., & Schuba, C. (2019). „Teachers as Informed Pragmatists“ – ein theoretisches Modell und empirische Befunde zur Förderung didaktischer Argumentationskompetenz von angehenden Lehrkräften. In BMBF (Hrsg.), Profilbildung im Lehramtsstudium. Beiträge der „Qualitätsoffensive Lehrerbildung“ zur individuellen Orientierung, curricularen Entwicklung und institutionellen Verankerung (S. 132–142). BMBF.
The ability to assess the difficulty of tasks for students is an important facet of diagnostic competence. On the one hand, teachers need didactic knowledge about difficulty-generating features of tasks (Ostermann, Leuders & Nückles, 2015). On the other hand, they should also draw on pedagogical-psychological principles for the didactic design of tasks, as they have been derived from Cognitive Load Theory (CLT) and have been empirically proven many times (e.g., integrated format, solution examples, and intermediate goals, cf. Sweller, Ayres, & Kalyuga, 2011). When mathematics teachers assess task difficulty for students*, do they incorporate these evidence-based CLT principles? We address this question in empirical studies in which we present prospective and in-service teachers with didactically optimized (e.g., with integrated format) and non-optimized mathematics tasks (e.g., split-attention format) according to Cognitive Load Theory principles and ask participants to estimate how difficult the tasks are likely to be for students* to solve. We then compare these estimates with the empirically determined actual task difficulties.
Contact: Prof. Dr. Matthias Nückles
Cooperation: Prof. Dr. Timo Leuders (Pädagogische Hochschule Freiburg)
Funding: Own funds as well as funding within the framework of the doctoral program “Subject-related pedagogical competencies and understanding of science – pedagogical professionalism in mathematics and the natural sciences” (ProMatNat, spokespersons: Prof. Dr. Matthias Nückles and Prof. Dr. Timo Leuders), funded by the state of Baden-Württemberg.
Wagner, S., Bauersfeld, J., & Nückles, M. (2020). Berücksichtigen Mathematiklehrkräfte pädagogisch-psychologische Evidenz zur Theorie der kognitiven Belastung, wenn sie die Schwierigkeit von Mathematikaufgaben für Schüler*innen beurteilen? Vortrag angenommen bei der Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Empirische Bildungsforschung, Potsdam.
Lachner, A., Weinhuber, M., & Nückles, M. (2019). To teach or not to teach the conceptual structure of mathematics? Teachers undervalue the potential of principle-oriented explanations. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 58, 175–185. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cedpsych.2019.03.008
Ostermann, A., Leuders, T., & Nückles, M. (2018). Improving the judgment of task difficulties: Prospective teachers’ diagnostic competence in the area of functions and graphs. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 21, 579–605. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10857-017-9369-z
Ostermann, A., Leuders, T., & Nückles, M. (2015). Wissen, was Schülerinnen und Schülern schwerfällt. Welche Faktoren beeinflussen die Schwierigkeitseinschätzung von Mathematikaufgaben? Journal für Mathematikdidaktik, 36, 45–76. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13138-015-0073-1
Hellmann, K., & Nückles, M. (2013). Expert blind spot in pre-service and in-service math-ematics teachers: Task design moderates overestimation of novices’ performance. In M. Knauff, M. Pauen, N. Sebanz, & I. Wachsmuth (Eds.), Proceedings of the 35th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 2518–2523). Cognitive Science Society.
Teaching students how to engage with texts in an interpretive way is an important Core Practice for teachers across all subjects. Reciprocal teaching is a cooperative reading training for sensory reading that has been empirically well supported by a large number of studies. How can prospective teachers learn to do Reciprocal Teaching with students in the most effective way? How should a teacher training course on Reciprocal Teaching be optimally designed? To answer these questions, we have developed several versions of a teaching training that differ in the sequence of key building blocks. Currently, we are conducting an experimental intervention study to test: (a) Is it better to first inform prospective teachers about the theoretical principles and concrete strategies of Reciprocal Teaching before they start to practice Reciprocal Teaching independently with students? (b) Or is it better to let the student teachers gain practical experience in reading promotion with students without prior information before they are shown the theoretical principles and concrete strategies? With our experimental intervention study we hope to be able to decide between both alternative hypotheses.
Contact: Prof. Dr. Matthias Nückles
Cooperation: Prof. Dr. Marc Kleinknecht and Dr. Kira Weber (Leuphana University Lüneburg)
Funding: German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in the framework of the 2nd funding phase of the Freiburg collaborative project Researching Practice – Practicing Research in the Quality Offensive Teacher Education
Altmann, A. F., Weber, K. E., Prilop, C. N., Kleinknecht, M., & Nückles, M. (2019). Förderung von Kernkompetenzen in der Lehramtsausbildung durch videobasiertes Microteaching und Peerfeedback. In T. Ehmke, P. Kuhl & M. Pietsch (Hrsg.), Lehrer. Bildung. Gestalten. Beiträge zur empirischen Forschung in der Lehrerbildung (S. 213–223). Beltz Juventa Verlag.