Selected Projects

COVID-19 and education: What can be done to ensure that the health and educational crises do not turn into social selectivity in the classroom?

Principal Investigator: Mario Steiner
Project Team: Maria Köpping, Andrea Leitner, Gabriele Pessl
Project Start: April 2020
Financing: Vienna Science and Technology Fund (WWTF)

Project information: The relationship between cultural and material resources of the family background and learning and school achievements of children is well-known. The social selectivity of educational output increases to the extent that it depends on private support.

When schools remained closed for several weeks due to the rise of the COVID pandemic in spring 2020, learning achievements were “privatised” to an unprecedented extent, posing exceptional challenges for school principals, teachers, students and parents alike. In a situation where learning achievements depend more than ever on students’ resources and the support they receive at home, there is a high risk of rising inequalities in educational performances.

Our research project investigates the teaching and learning achievements as well as the support from the home environment in this particular situation. Looking at the challenges of the COVID-induced school closures as a learning opportunity, our goal is to discover potentials and strategies for resilience: What are the didactic-pedagogical approaches and the support necessary to counteract disadvantages despite adverse conditions?

With a special focus on Vienna and the lower-secondary level of education, our research design relies on a quantitative survey among Austrian teachers (n>4000) as well as qualitative interviews with teachers, students and their families. This allows us to gain a deeper understanding of the distance learning situation from multiple perspectives.

Preliminary results of the study show that teachers’ concerns about potential learning losses are particularly high regarding disadvantaged students. At the same time, however, there are also students who exceeded their teachers’ expectations in this difficult situation. During the phase of distance learning, teachers developed a variety of strategies to adapt educational contents and methods to disadvantaged students’ needs and provide individual support.

Social Progress in Education and Work

Project Team: David Baumegger, Isabella Juen, Maria Köpping, Lorenz Lassnigg, Andrea Leitner, Barbara Metzler, Gabriele Pessl, Nadia Steiber, Mario Steiner, Ana Sticker, Stefan Vogtenhuber, Irina Zielinska
Project Start: January 2018
Financing: Federal Ministry of Social Affaires

Project Information: International debates on ‘social progress’ are currently rising (f.ex. International Panel on Social Progress – IPSP; Social Progress Imperative; Stiglitz/Sen/Fitoussi 2009: The Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress Revisited). In the context of these debates one is seeking to make social progress measurable and hence to overcome the limits of economic growth and GDP.

Step 1 of our project is to develop a theory-based concept of social progress in education and work. In doing so, we refer to the holistic approach set out in the IPSP. As a second step, we will select a set of indicators that encompass developments in the fields of education and work over the last decades with reference to social progress. The third step is to calculate those indicators in order to answer the question, if those developments can be considered socially progressive.

At a methodological level, we aim to develop a growth model within a latent variable modeling approach to examine the development of, and the interrelation between, several outcomes over time. In such a framework, the growth factors are conceptualized as domains that are measured by the selected indicators of a specific education or work field (e.g. quality of work, income). The selected indicators will be validated by specifying measurement models in order to check whether the data fits the hypothesized factor structure.

Scientific Expertise on the 'AusBildung bis 18'-scheme (E&T up to the age of 18)

Principal Investigator: Mario Steiner
Project Team: Gabriele Pessl, Thomas DavoineAndrea LeitnerSusanne Forstner, Isabella Juen, Maria Köpping
Project in Cooperation with: ÖIBF
Project Start: February 2017
Financing: Ministry of Social Affaires, Ministry of Education, Ministry for Economic Affaires, Ministry of Youth

Project Information: This project provides insights into a broad spectrum of topics that are related with the ‘AusBildung bis 18’-scheme and the related ‚Law on Compulsory Training‘, passed by the National Assembly of Austria in June 2016. Our analyses range from estimating the effects of the program on a macroeconomic level, to research on the needs of target groups as young refugees and persons with a school leaving certificate from a special needs school and to exploring and explaining regional differences in the early school leaving (ESL)-rate. Besides, we analyze relevant supporting measures as supra-company training and youth work. A research focus is set on an innovative school type for vocational education (‘Praxishandelsschule’), thereby exploring factors that successfully help to prevent ESL.

Our first results show vast macroeconomic effects of ‘AusBildung bis 18’, as the levels of qualification of the concerned cohorts will increase. In the long run, millions that will be invested in the scheme correspond to positive effects on the GDP, adding up to some billions. The effects will thus exceed those connected with the last fiscal reform.

Low Qualifications and the Risks of Exclusion from and Possibilities of Participation in Education & Training, Employment, and the Wider Society

Principal Investigator: Mario Steiner
Project Team: Gabriele PesslAndrea Kulhanek
Project Start: January 2017
Financing: Federal Ministry of Social Affaires

Project Information: The focus of this study is on persons with lower secondary qualification at most. We explore respective risks of exclusion and their possibilities of participation in education & training, employment, and the wider society. On a theoretical level, we compare and discuss approaches that draw on ‘human capital’ on the one side and conflict-theories, emphasizing the impact of structures and power, on the other. In the quantitative part of the study the central research foci are on the social reproduction of cultural capital, the exclusion of young persons with low socio-economic status, on unemployment, and on the (lacking) quality of employment. Finally, we analyze the links between education and health issues and political participation. Our results raise serious questions about social cohesion, sustainability, and the legitimacy of the (unequal) status-quo of our society. Applying a biographical approach of research, we also explore the meanings that education and work do have for young persons who have not completed further education; how they experience exclusion and inclusion; and which patterns of orientation and action they develop in this context. Based on the systematic comparison of biographical case reconstructions, we distinguished three qualitative types.

Labor market integration of migrants in Austria (LIMA)

Principal Investigator: Stefan Vogtenhuber
Project Members: Andrea Leitner, Nadia Steiber
Project Start: December 2016
Project Output: working papers, journal articles, constructing a new register- and process-based database
Financing: Anniversary Fund of the Oesterreichische Nationalbank (OeNB), funded under the economics special focus area “Migration, labor market and economic growth”

Project Information: Austria has developed into an immigration country and can be considered as one of the long-standing European immigration countries. Nonetheless, very little is known about the integration of past and recent waves of immigration in the Austrian labor market. The proposed study aims to fill this knowledge gap by providing comprehensive and reliable evidence about the labor market situation of different groups of migrants over time, by analyzing labor market flows and comparing the labor market integration of different waves and groups of immigrants against the contextual backdrop of overall socioeconomic and employment conditions (labor demand), and the evolvement of individual background characteristics of the workforce as a whole.

Completed Projects

Completed Projects (Selection)