We empirically explore how people across all lifespans can find the courage and strength to use their own understanding without another’s guidance, empowered through informal and non-formal educational processes. We collect evidence on how people can take their lives into their own hands and work confidently with others toward their personal goals. We research how children, young people and adults can successfully cooperate, including digitally, in networks that extend beyond family and friends, and advance society as a whole. To this end, we conduct research in projects on cultural participation and digital transformation from an empowerment perspective, and we focus on digital regional development as a field of social innovation.

Methodologically, our projects are characterized by the use of quantitative methods including multi-level and structural equation models as well as qualitative methods. Both are integrated in a mixed methods approach. The data collected often go beyond conventional questionnaires and interviews: Our methods include performance tests and computer-simulated problem-solving scenarios for competence assessment as well as the collection of physiological parameters and behavioral traces. In addition, we use methods from the field of Data Science or Big Data for broad-based and systematic research syntheses. In terms of research strategy, our projects cover the entire spectrum from cross-sectional and longitudinal studies to controlled field experiments and interventions embedded in a design-based approach. The project results are used for the further development of theoretical framework models as well as for the development of intervention concepts for practice.

To sum it up, the majority of our current projects can be assigned to the following three focus areas:

Cultural Participation, Digital Transformation and Empowerment
Digital Regional Development and Social Innovation
Research Synthesis and Data Science


Beyond this, there is further research, mainly on dispositional action regulation, metacognition complex problem solving and working memory/intelligence, as well as publications from research collaborations where we provided the expertise on empirical research methods.


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