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Multidimensional Heterogeneity in the Classroom: Measurement, Effects, Mechanisms MuHiK)

Project management

Dr. Camilla Rjosk

Project coordination

Dr. Georg Lorenz


Svenja Hascher
Chenru Hou

Student assistants

Sophie Lutter
Daniela Schwindt

Cooperations partners

Assistant Prof. Xing Liu (Wayne State University)
Prof. Oliver Lüdtke (IPN Kiel)
Prof. Hans Anand Pant (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
Prof. Sherry Thatcher (University of Tennessee Knoxville)

Former project members

Aida Kolke

Funding period

01. April 2021 – 31. März 2026


Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)

Funding code: 01JG2106



Project description

In April 2023, the interdisciplinary junior research group “Multidimensional Heterogeneity in the Classroom: Measurement, Effects, Mechanisms (MuHiK)“ moved to University of Potsdam. In this five-year project, we investigate how student heterogeneity can be measured based on more than one student characteristic and by considering the entanglement of multiple heterogeneity dimensions. Another aim is to examine relationships between multidimensional heterogeneity and student achievement as well as psychosocial outcomes. The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).



How diversity or heterogeneity of the student body affects individual learning is of major interest for educational practice, politics and research. However, existing studies on heterogeneity effects within classrooms show inconsistent findings and most commonly rely on only one dimension of heterogeneity (e.g., achievement or ethnic background). This procedure disregards that heterogeneity in the classroom is (more) complex and multidimensional. Each person is characterized by a combination of characteristics (e.g., gender, multilingualism). Therefore, heterogeneity has to be viewed as multidimensional—even at the classroom level. In the project, we consider this multidimensionality to predict classroom-level processes. For instance, a classroom that is heterogeneous in terms of achievement, gender, and multilingualism might require different instructional behaviors by teachers or lead to different peer formation processes compared to a classroom that is heterogeneous in terms of achievement and gender.


Project content and goals

The work of the junior research group started with reviewing current research on effects of various diversity dimensions on student achievement and psychosocial outcomes (e.g., interests, school-related well-being). Currently, the project strives to advance methodology to measure multidimensional heterogeneity as a construct at the classroom level. This includes transferring economic approaches on team diversity to the analysis of the classroom context. Based on analyses of existing datasets, the project investigates how multidimensional heterogeneity contributes in predicting student achievement and psychosocial outcomes. Furthermore, we analyze how process characteristics at the teacher level (e.g., instructional behavior, stress) as well as at the peer level (e.g., mutual support, classroom climate) can explain heterogeneity effects on student outcomes. The overall goal is to describe how learning can succeed within a multidimensional heterogeneous student body and to identify promising areas for future interventions by involving stakeholders in educational practice.

The research questions of the project address the domains measurement, effects, and mechanisms as follows:


Are approaches to measure multidimensional heterogeneity transferable to the classroom context and do they contribute to explaining differences in student achievement and psychosocial outcomes?


How is multidimensional heterogeneity related to student achievement as well as psychosocial outcomes?


Which process characteristics at the level of teachers and peers can explain effects of multidimensional heterogeneity?


Cooperation with stakeholders in educational practice

The project includes ongoing cooperation with stakeholders in educational practice, especially from the fields of teacher training and teacher development as well as school organization. We will discuss the steps of the project and potential limitations, main project findings as well as their dissemination and utilization in educational practice on a regular basis. Towards the end of the project, a conference that involves educational stakeholders will be held to discuss the project findings and summarize them in a project synthesis related to educational practice.

Our cooperation partners related to educational practice are:
Dr. Martina Diedrich (IfBQ, Hamburg)
Dr. Veronika Manitius (QUA-LiS NRW)
Prof. Hans Anand Pant (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin/IPN)
Susanne Wolter (LISUM, Berlin-Brandenburg)