One of the most innovative aspects of the RS’s training programme is the large-scale longitudinal study (LS) covering appr. 30 schools in the Bielefeld-Dortmund Region, that is performed and supervised by the Institute of School Development in Dortmund. The Institute’s outstanding expertise guarantees a unique basis for this new form of methodological training. By linking the educational programme to the LS and involving the doctoral students in an expert culture, it enables the sound acquisition of a broad array of quantitative and qualitative methods along with triangulation procedures. The LS can also serve as a common point of reference for doctoral students’ research activities. The joint processing of datasets, the collection of additional data in the context of the study, the comparison of German data with data from international sites are only some of the benefits of the conduction of a LS for training purposes. The examined cohort will track pupils from the seventh grade at Hauptschule and Realschule up to the second year of vocational training (Berufsbildende Schule). Thus, the age range spans from 13 to 18 years.
Research has shown that more than 20% of 15-year-olds in Germany do not attain the competences at the end of their secondary education that will presumably allow them to complete a vocational training. Similar problems and marginalization processes also exist in several other countries. The orientation towards the CA enables an understanding of these problems, which comprises questions of educational and social justice and centers on individual as well as social conditions of children and youth in school and parental milieu. The LS’s regular data collection is restricted to two key qualifications that can be viewed as crucial for the acquisition of all other competencies: reading comprehension (additionally, writing and listening for EFL) and social competence. Of course, this main focus does not rule out the inclusion of other instruments relevant to the graduate students’ research.
The thematic focus on the transition from school to work serves as a rich field of connectivity for German as well as international students. It gives the possibility to study the specific situation in Germany as well as international comparisons between school processes, processes of transitions and different age domains. The situation of migrants and multilingualism will be of special interest for Germany as well as for international comparisons. Summing up, it has to be stressed that the students’ involvement in the processes of the LS basically serves the purpose of their broad methodological training. The link of their dissertations to the longitudinal data is an option, not an obligation.