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Completed Projects

This project was carried out in collaboration with the College of Education Burgenland, and was completed under the direction of VR University Professor Dr. Catherine Walter-Laager; Timeframe: 15 June 2020 - 30 September 2020.

High-quality instruction in early childhood educational institutions has many facets, and can be implemented with a wide range of creative practices. This project, which was carried out in cooperation with the College of Education Burgenland, focuses on instructional quality development in the area of early childhood mathematical education. With this aim in mind, a multi-part package of actionable measures for quality assurance in early childhood mathematical education was developed, consisting of the following two parts:

PART 1: The development of a scale to assess early mathematical education

GrazIASMATH, a tool for assessing interactional quality in early childhood mathematical education, provides a methodology for measuring essential data points for evaluating the quality of early childhood mathematical instruction.

PART 2: Continuing Education and Professional Development Materials

A booklet entitled “Focusing on Early Childhood Mathematical Education” was prepared to accompany a an advanced training program consisting of four half-day lessons. This program includes input from professionals and interactive exercises for class participants. The professional development program is based on theoretically sound instructional practices which are associated with high interactional quality.  The program also includes video materials demonstrating best educational practices. These videos are integrated directly into the half-day training courses and provide an impetus for self-reflection and deepening participants’ knowledge.



Region of study:

Burgenland, Austria

Collaborating Institutions:

College of Education Burgenland

This project is carried out in collaboration with the College of Education Burgenland under the direction of VR University Professor Dr. Catherine Walter-Laager; Project Start: 1 March 2020

During the 2020-2021 academic year, the College of Education Burgenland initiated a professional development program focused on “Linguistic Support in Everyday Instruction”. This program was aimed at improving the quality of language-stimulating interactions and strengthening professionals’ interaction-related skills during everyday pedagogical practice (College of Education Burgenland, 2019).

As part of an investigative study, the effect that the university program “Linguistic Support in Everyday Instruction” had on the professionalization of early childhood educational institutions was tested by means of a pre-post experimental design, including a test group and control group. Assessment was carried out through observation (GrazIAS and two observational phases in the experimental and control groups) and via questionnaires (two online surveys were carried out for the experimental group; one online survey was carried out for the control group). Surveys were completed between March and October of 2020.



Region of Study:

Burgenland, Austria

Collaborating Institutions:

College of Education Burgenland

This collaborative research project was developed and carried out under the direction of Prof. Dr. Frauke Hildebrandt (Potsdam University of Applied Sciences) and Univ. Prof. Dr. Catherine Walter-Laager (University of Graz, in collaboration with PädQUIS). The “BiKA” study examined, among other things, young children’s participation in daily childcare center activities by examining video recordings of daily life in nurseries. Researcher’s observations were focused on childcare professionals’ ability to recognize and react appropriately to children’s verbal and non-verbal communication and to care for children sensitively and in a supportive manner. Childcare professionals were additionally assessed on their ability to plan and implement activities which included children’s active participation.

Timeframe: 2018 - 2022
Funding: Funding provided by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth
Regional Benefit: Accessible information (a report is forthcoming) and scientifically-founded professional development opportunities for instructional practice

For many families, sending young children to be looked after in a nursery school is part of everyday life: Children are cared for in a day nursery and have many interesting and important experiences which can promote their development. It is precisely this point which forms the focal point of the research project “the Effects of Interactional Quality on Young Children in Nurseries (EIK-Study), which examines how interactional quality between childcare professionals and children in Austrian nurseries is structured and how it affects a child’s development in the first year of nursery school.

As part of this study, approximately 100 children from different nursery schools in Vienna and the greater Graz area were observed three separate times (in October, February and June) during the 2018-2019 school year. Standardized methods of observation were used to record both general standards of quality and to analyse interactions between educational professionals and children. Additionally, the children who began nursery school during this school year were invited to take part in a playful development test. A questionnaire filled out by parents completed the data collection process. Another questionnaire was sent to all adults in the nursery school group.

Timeframe: 2018 - 2019
Region of study:

The Federal State of Styria and Vienna, Austria

Funding: Doctoral/Master’s Students and internal funds

In early childhood educational institutions, both didactic and methodical approaches form an essential part of the instructional process. This is true for all educational systems worldwide. The study “Early Childhood Education Professionals’ Attitudes Towards Childcare and Education, as Demonstrated in an International Comparison of Mathematics Instruction (“BELMi3-6”) examines the instructional approaches and performance expectations of mathematics instructors from several different countries’ for children aged 3-6. Early childhood educators from Switzerland, Austria, China (Shanghai) and Vietnam (Hanoi) were all involved in this research.

The study consists of several different elements. General attitudes to education are first collected by means of a questionnaire (Keller, 2011). These attitudes are then examined qualitatively. Early childhood educators are then asked to design and implement a mathematical “play and learn” activity for children aged 3 to 6. The activity is then filmed and subsequently evaluated. The early childhood educators then justify the didactic methods used and reflect on the underlying attitudes toward pedagogy which form the foundation of their practice. Educators’ performance expectations are obtained by means of a questionnaire focused on children’s mathematical abilities.

More information on this project can be found here.

Timeframe: 2016 - 2018    
Region of study:

Austria, Switzerland, China and Vietnam

Funding: Doctoral Candidates and internal funds    
Regional benefit: As part of this study, research findings and illustrative teaching materials were made widely available for publication. Additionally, the contacts made as part of this project form a valuable anchoring point for the creation of an international teaching framework.

A total of seven different institutions from Germany, Italy, Slovenia, Hungary and Austria worked on the development of a European Quality Label for the field of early childhood education. At the end of the project, the Quality Label for kindergartens and daycare institutions served primarily to make the quality of educational and childcare facilities visible to the outside world and to promote quality assurance. Additionally, it represents an important step in the development  of high-quality early childhood educational and care institutions.

The goal of this project is for all EU countries to have access to a uniform Quality Label and thus for quality to be visibly and permanently improved and maintained throughout the EU.

The main results of the project can be found on the project homepage.

Timeframe: 2017 - 2019    

The European Commission

Grant program: ERASMUS+   

Additional Information concerning this project and its series of professional development programs can be found at https://www.gesundaufwachsen.at/ 

This project was managed and directed by: SUPRO - Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Vorarlberg

The support programs for young children in various Swiss cities function very differently from one another, as do the ease of access or the mandatory legal requirements for participating in such programs. So far, it has largely remained unclear how families - especially those who are socially or economically disadvantaged or come from a migrant background - perceive the state’s approach to benefits and welfare.

This study examined the use (or lack of use) and benefits derived from these social programs from the point of view of parents’ of young children. This study was carried out comparatively across several disparate communities and cities.

This study can be downloaded here.

Timeframe: 2016-2018    
Region of research: Switzerland    

The State Secretary for Migration, various cities and cantons, a comparative research project examining various aspects of education was also carried out (Dissertation)


Regional benefit:

Supplementary research for the greater Graz area in various Master’s theses was able to be carried out using the instruments and methods of assessment which were developed as part of this project.

Numerous studies in the field of early childhood language instruction indicate that a wide variety of strategies can be effectively implemented to assist children’s language acquisition. This project aims to tease out the most important strategies for promoting language acquisition and to make them available for practical use in everyday pedagogical life in kindergartens. As part of the project “10 Steps to a Reflected and Daily Integrated Linguistic Education,” educational professionals are encouraged to reflect on strategies for integrated language instruction using short articles, guided activities to try out in practice, checklists, and video examples. This enables professionals to improve interactional quality in their own classrooms

Information and project materials can be found here.

Timeframe: 2018 
Funding: The Federal State of Styria
Regional Benefit:

The professionalisation of kindergarten educators: The latest scientific research findings are presented to interested persons in the field of early childhood language education in an accessible and practice-oriented way.


This international project examines the quality of institutional education, care and upbringing for infants and toddlers between the ages of 0-2 in Austria and the city of Zurich. This project aims to improve quality development and assurance in the education, care and upbringing of infants and toddlers in educational institutions, especially through play. Videos and a methodically prepared booklet (including reflection exercises and activities specifically created for implementation in practice for staff in early childhood education and care facilities) are intended to bridge the gap between theoretical guidelines in educational research and the barriers for implementation of these criteria in practice.

Additional information, including these videos, can be found on the project homepage: krippenqualität.uni-graz.at

The accompanying booklet can be found here


Timeframe: 2017 - 2018
Area of research: Austria, Switzerland
Funding: The Federal State of Styria
Regional Benefit Professionalization of staff in childcare institutions


This project undertook an extensive and systematic review of scientific literature and impact studies in the areas of health and well-being, the social sciences, education, and several expert-led workshops to develop evidence-based criteria for the provision of effective support programs. These guidelines highlight effective ways to support all families - especially those facing challenging life circumstances.

The project report can be found here

Timeframe: 2015-2016    
Region of research: Switzerland    
Funding: National Program for Preventing and Combating Poverty, The Federal Social Insurance Office    
Regional Benefits:

The Literature Review and the guidelines developed as part of this project were published in the Spring of 2016 by the Federal Social Insurance Office. The authors may use these materials as they see fit.

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