The Interfaculty Centre for Educational Research (ICER) was founded in 2018 by the Faculty of Human Sciences and the Faculty of Business, Economics and Social Sciences of the University of Bern.
The overarching goal of ICER is to promote empirical scientific findings in educational research across all educational levels and with a perspective on the entire course of life. In this context, ICER is characterized by inter- and transdisciplinary collaboration between different disciplines and educational policy.
How does the inter- and transdisciplinarity of ICER present itself?
The challenge facing educational researchers is to find reliable, theory-based answers to the question of how learning can be supported in a targeted manner in schools. Both proximal and distal factors as well as their interaction must be taken into account. To further develop educational systems and to improve teaching and learning in schools and beyond, it is necessary to approach this challenge in an interdisciplinary way, from various scientific perspectives. Accordingly, the ICER unites expertise from various disciplines concerned with teaching and learning in schools.
Another challenge is to ensure that the results can be used beyond the level of educational science. ICER supports educational policy by processing, presenting, and classifying the empirically generated data so that the results can be incorporated into educational policy discussions. In this way, the scientifically developed empirical findings can be used in a transdisciplinary manner, which serves the further development not only of the school system, but also of school and teaching practice.
The interdisciplinary educational research conducted at the ICER therefore aims to have a transdisciplinary effect.
What contributions is the ICER making to address interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary issues in educational science?
ICER's contribution in the context of national education monitoring
Large-scale assessments (LSA) in the school sector are broad-based surveys of the competencies acquired by students. LSA allow the effectiveness of education systems to be compared both between countries and cantons and over time. They are thus an important pillar of national education monitoring.
In international comparative studies, these competencies can be compared and assessed in the context of the different conditions in the various school systems. The national LSA established in many countries also allow an evaluation of the curricular competencies and thus a link to the national educational goals. In doing so, the respective particularities of the educational system can also be adequately considered.
The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), an international competence study of the OECD, and the Verification of the Attainment of Basic Competencies (Überprüfung der Grundkompetenzen, ÜGK), a national performance study, are part of the Swiss education monitoring system. The ICER's mandate in the context of these two projects is, among other things, to coordinate their implementation throughout Switzerland.
The ICER's mandate also includes ensuring the quality of the data from the PISA and ÜGK projects and rendering them interpretable and usable for education monitoring by means of appropriate processing, presentation, and classification at the level of education policy. In this context, the ICER contributes to interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary questions of educational science in the context of national education monitoring.
Within the frame of the national education monitoring, projects are also planned at the ICER to further develop and optimise the processes of planning and conducting the LSA. One example is the development of a module for sample management in Swiss large-scale assessments to facilitate sampling for LSA in Switzerland and to reduce the related workload for the cantons and the schools.
Another example is to examine the processes as well as the quality of linkage of the ÜGK data with register data for possible future use of the linking within the scope of the ÜGK.
ICER's contribution to the research infrastructure
As broad-based surveys of student competencies, large-scale assessments (LSA) in schooling provide comparisons of the effectiveness of education systems both across countries and cantons and over time. They thus represent an important pillar of education monitoring. Furthermore, they provide an interesting data basis for basic research in various disciplines as well as for applied research projects at universities of applied sciences and full universities. These are data from the standardised achievement tests and from the standardised contextual questionnaires used in each case (e.g., at the level of students or at the level of schools) that adequately represent the respective target population.
The ICER contributes to the research infrastructure by coordinating the contextualization of the LSA at a national level. In this context, the development and translation of the contextual questionnaires is done in cooperation with different institutions from all language regions of Switzerland, which allows for consideration of different interests from different disciplines in terms of content.
Furthermore, ICER's mission is to process the data from the Swiss LSA for the analysis of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary questions in educational science and to make them available to the entire research community. In this way, ICER contributes to the national and international research infrastructure. The national data from PISA and ÜGK are made available on SWISSUbase after their publication, which supports their integration into the national and international research infrastructure.
The ICER also links to the LSA data in its own research projects. One example of this is the project to link data from the 2016 ÜGK and the 2017 ÜGK with register data.
Contribution of ICER in research-based service and transfer activities
Based on the expertise available at the ICER in dealing with educational issues, it supports interested partners within and outside the university in corresponding projects. In this context, basic, supra-regional and internationally significant research-based services and transfer services are provided on the basis of analyses of existing data. In cooperation with the project partners, demand-oriented questions are developed and analysed. One example of this is the in-depth analysis of ÜGK data from the 2016 surveys for various cantons.
ICER's contribution to externally funded projects
To address educational issues, ICER raises external funding for its own interdisciplinary research projects in educational research across all levels of education and with a perspective on the entire course of life. Examples include the PIONEERED project funded by the EU as a Horizon 2020 project, the DigiPrim project as part of the BeLEARN initiative of the Canton of Bern, and the Career Tracker Cohorts project commissioned by the SNSF.