Skip to main content


PIER Project

A child is sitting at a table and is looking to a tablet. The fingers are laying on the keyboard.
Photo: privat
Children with personal initiative

Key objective of the PIER project is to contribute to our understanding of developmental risk and protective factors in childhood and adolescents. The project is funded by the German Research Council (DFG-GRK 1668/1), which covers for a graduate school and two longitudinal studies. Up to now, more than 3000 children and adolescents have participated in multiple waves of data collection. More detailed information on the individual pieces of research, PhD-Dissertations, publications, participating schools and more can be taken from the PIER’s website.

Two PhD-projects have focused on the role of personal initiative in childhood and adolescents. In contrast to adults, for which substantial research on antecedents and consequences of personal initiative and other types of proactivity has been conducted, research on proactivity in children is still in its infancy. Dr. Anna Wollny, Dipl.-Psych.,  developed a rating instrument that allows teachers and parents to assess children’s personal initiative (Wollny, Fay, & Urbach, 2016) and tested the role of initiative for the development of basic reading skills (Wollny, 2015). Building on this, Greta Warner, Dipl.-Psych., currently looks at the interplay of personal initiative and motivational factors for the development of competencies. She furthermore looks at the development of initiative over time.

Selected Publications

Warner, G. J., Fay, D., Schiefele, U., Stutz, F., & Wollny, A. (2017). Being proactive when reading: Academic personal initiative as a predictor of word comprehension development. Learning and Individual Differences, 55, 130-140. doi:

Warner, G. J., Lensing, J. N., & Fay, D. (2017). Personal initiative: Developmental predictors and positive outcomes from childhood to early adolescence. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 52, 114-125. doi:

Warner, G. J., Fay, D., & Spörer, N. (2017). Relations among personal initiative and the development of reading strategy knowledge and reading comprehension. Frontline Learning Research, 5(2), 1-23. doi:

Wollny, Anna (2015). Eigeninitiative in der Kindheit und ihre Bedeutung für die Entwicklung der Lesekompetenz. Dissertationsschrift: Universität Potsdam.

Wollny, A., Fay, D. & Urbach, T. (2016). Personal initiative in middle childhood: Conceptualization and measurement development. Learning & Individual Differences, 49, 59-73. doi: 10.1016/j.lindif.2016.05.004.