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Project duration 01.02.2018 - 31.03.2022

European Training Network „Outcomes and Causal Inference in International Comparative Assessments“

The European Training Network OCCAM is an international research project that provides junior scientists with an international, intersectoral, and interdisciplinary research and training environment. The research questions encompass the fields of the integrity of educational measures, educational settings and processes, as well as governance of resources and decision making in the area of education.


European Commission

Project description

Europäische Flagge und dunkelblaue Kachel mit weißen Schriftzug des Projektnamens ETN OCCAM

The European Training Network (ETN) Outcomes and Causal Inference in International Comparative Assessments (OCCAM) investigates how educational policies influence educational outcomes worldwide. One of the most salient findings in the field of education is that there are huge national differences in student achievement in international comparative studies.

The shockingly large gap between the highest performing countries (most of which are in East Asia) and many European countries corresponds to a difference in attainment of two years of schooling. Although this finding has been replicated in several studies, at present, the reasons for and consequences of such differences are not well understood.

Variations in many features of educational policies and institutions can only be observed across countries on the system level (e.g., the existence of central exams). Since the start of the new millennium, a new generation of international comparative studies has been launched: studies like PISA and TIMSS are repeated every few years and thus have a longitudinal component at the system level. Unlike cross-sectional designs, these trend designs allow the causal effects of changes in educational policies at the system level to be estimated. Applying this approach to the accumulated data from the comparative studies will provide insights into the determinants of educational outcomes worldwide.

In the ETN OCCAM, overall 15 junior scientists address research questions in this area and profit from an international, intersectoral, and interdisciplinary research and training environment: The OCCAM consortium encompasses partner from seven European countries, Australia, and the US. There are partners from the academic, for-profit, and non-profit sectors involved as well as partner from the disciplines of economics, education, educational measurement, psychology, and sociology. The ETN OCCAM is funded within the scope of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks (MSCA ITN) of the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 framework.

Lead researcher at IFS

Project management

  • PD Dr. Rolf Strietholt

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Location & approach

The most convenient highway exits are on the B 1/A 40 (Dortmund-Barop) (closer to the North Campus) and on the A45 (Dortmund-Eichlinghofen). The university is signposted at both exits. In the local road network you will find signs to Campus Nord, where the Campus Treff is also located. From Emil-Figge-Strasse, entrance no. 18 and from Vogelspothsweg entrance no. 23 lead to parking spaces near the venue.

From Dortmund main station, take the S-Bahn "S1" in the direction of Solingen on track 7 to the stop "Dortmund-Universität" (price level A). The S-Bahn runs every 15 minutes during peak hours on weekdays and takes about 6 minutes. From Düsseldorf, the S-Bahn runs every 30 minutes. Directly at the S-Bahn station you will find the CDI building, which houses the Center for Research on Education and School Development.

One of the university's landmarks is the H-Bahn, which has two terminuses on the North Campus. One is located directly above the S-Bahn station and is easily accessible from it by elevators. The other is located in the center of Campus North at the bridge between the University Library and the Mensa, right next to the Audimax. The H-Bahn runs from here to the South Campus and the Eichlinghofen district.

Dortmund has an airport connected with some destinations in Central Europe. There are regular flights, for example, to Amsterdam, Berlin, Dresden, Katowice, Krakow, Leipzig-Halle, London, Munich, Nuremberg, Paris, Poznan, Stuttgart, Vienna and Zurich. For the approximately 20 kilometers from the Dortmund airport to the campus, you can take the bus to the main train station and from there the S-Bahn. Faster is usually the use of a cab. Far more international flight connections are offered by the Rhine-Ruhr Airport in Düsseldorf, about 60 kilometers away, which can be reached directly by S-Bahn from the university station.