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Current Projects

The Federal initiative “Language Nurseries” aims to increase educational opportunities for children, especially those with a migratory background or who come from educationally disadvantaged families. In service of this purpose, participating institutions will undertake a systematic enhancement of their personell structure. At the same time, an extended intervention program will be implemented, providing financial support for pedagogical consultants in regional groups of approximately 10 to 15 childcare institutions. These specialist consultants are trained via a multiplier program, ensuring that they can work efficiently with institutional teams and provide in-house support. Finally, a formative evaluation will assess implementational progress and provide justification for any necessary changes made during the course of the program.


Timeframe: 2016 - 2022    
Funding: Funding provided by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth    
Regional benefit: Supporting language acquisition is currently a central focus for the field of early childhood education. Research findings regarding the implementation of this program could be adapted to an Austrian context.


The "PA-digital” digital mentorship program is a free learning platform funded by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) as part of its initiative “Professional Development for Educators” (Fachkräfteoffensive Erzieherinnen und Erzieher). The program was developed under the direction of Prof. Dr. Catherine Walter-Laager and focuses primarily on instructional practice, daycare management and the provision of resources for interested educational professionals. The program aims to strengthen child-care centres as institutions of learning, and to further professionalize the pedagogical education of young professionals.


Timeframe: 2019 - 2022
Funding: Funding provided by the Federal Ministry for Family Affairs, Senior Citizens, Women and Youth
Regional benefit:

The interactive learning platform is open for use to all educational professionals and can be customised according to their needs.

Properly documented methods of observation in everyday pedagogical work may be studied in two separate ways:

  • To assess the diagnostic competence of educational professionals (in comparison with other testing methodologies)
  • To assess children’s learning processes and development.


KiDiT® (KinderDiagnoseTool) is a tool ideally suited to these and any other purposes. The tool was developed by Prof. M. Pffifner and myself, with the help of several other luminaries in the field, including Prof. Dr. R. Largo, Prof. Dr. Dr. em. F. Oser, and many doctoral students. In recent years, the effectiveness of the tool has been confirmed and validated several times, both statistically and through real instructional practice. It is currently being used to aid in the education of over 20,000 children, and has been implemented by our own colleagues and in other notable research projects (e.g. by Prof. Dr. K. Eilerts from the Humboldt University of Berlin in the project “Pro-KomMa”).


Timeframe: Currentlich being used in serveral research projects and evaluations    
Region of study: Austria, Switzerland and Germany    
Funding: Several different sponsoring institutions    
Regional benefit: This tool is widely transferrable and can be used immediately for educational practice and research in Austria. Comprehensive comparable data from other German-speaking regions have already been made available.


As the number of child care and educational facilities in European member states steadily increases, the quality assurance and development of such facilities is becoming ever more important. The Erasmus+ Project “Qualimentary” focuses on the implementation of quality assurance processes for interactions in childcare and early childhood education intuitions. Participating project partners include a large network of experienced research institutions (with leading institutions located in Graz, Italy, Slovenia, Portugal, Hungary and Germany). The Erasmus+ KA2 professional development project lasts from September 2019 until August 2021 and is divided into three separate phases.

Timeframe: 2019 - 2021
Region of study: Austria, Italy, Slovenia, Portugal, Hungary and Germany
Funding: Erasmus+

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Building and erecting structures is a fundamental part of most children’s play. When playing a game which involves building or construction, a child experiences the world in a co-constructivist sense and explores, among other things, the physical laws governing objects in space while experiencing him or herself as a constructor and creator. The aim of this project, which is directed by Eva Pölzl-Sefanec, Assistant Professor at the University of Graz, is to more widely disseminate the theoretical basis and didactic benefits of building and construction games. The project is being carried out in collaboration with educational professionals in a professional development program with synchronous online components.


Timeframe: 2021
Funding: Austrian Research promotion Agency (Österreichische Forschungsförderung GmbH)

“Microlearning” is an innovative approach to E-learning centered on reaching large goals through small steps. Conceived by Eva Pölzl-Stefanec, Assistant Professor at the University of Graz, this asynchronous approach to learning allows for extreme flexibility and the ability to seamlessly integrate daily work with professional development. Thanks to the flexibility offered by remote and asynchronous learning, educational professionals can continue their education without any major interruptions to their work schedule. Individual learning modules are highly focused and limited in scope, both in terms of required time and content.

Timeframe: 2020 - 2021

Cooperating Institutions:

The State of Styria, A6 - Childcare and Education

Recent international research findings show that the impact of integrated language instruction is closely correlated with the design of interactions between educational professionals and children. The project “Linguistic Development in Kindergartens” aims to contribute to quality assurance and development in linguistic instruction in kindergartens. The project focuses on integrating linguistic education into everyday pedagogical life, including music and movement, building and construction play, and eating. The resultant educational materials have been made available to educational specialists. These materials include films which depict high interactional quality in language instruction.


Timeframe: 2020 - 2021
Region of study: Styria. Austria
Funding: The State of Styria

Children’s use of digital media has changed dramatically in recent years. While previous generations’ media habits were dominated by television, new media like smartphones and tablets are being used by children in their earliest years of life. How does the use of such media affect children’s development and well-being? Research into this question has so far proven to be woefully inadequate. This study aims to examine the influence that interactive digital media use has had on the development and well-being of young children aged one and half years and up. This study will examine how different media platforms differ in their effects and explore how the amount of such media use impacts young children.


Timeframe: 2018 - 2021
Region of study: Styria, Austria
Funding: The State of Styria
Sponsoring Program:

The Styrian Fund for the Future (Zukunftsfonds Steiermark)

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