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“Gender-specific social relationships as determinants of early educational processes: A Berlin Longitudinal Study on the influence of attachment to educators and primary school teachers on the educational careers of girls and boys”

German Research Foundation (DFG) project, 2006–2010

The aim of this project was to combine findings from research on attachment and gender on a synergetic basis to answer the question of whether the development of gender differences in academic self-concepts and competencies is rooted in gender-specific social relationships at preschool facilities. To this end, 135 independent instructor-child dyads were observed with regard to their attachment quality at daycare facilities in Berlin during the last three months before the children transitioned to elementary school, and questions were asked about the child’s peer relationships. In addition, interviews on self-concepts, motivation for learning, and attitudes were conducted, and standardized tests were administered to gather information on the children’s early academic skills in arithmetic, reading, and writing. The longitudinal study continued to follow the children after their transition to school with an eye to their development of relationships with instructors and classmates and their development of self-concepts and competencies. To this end, the researchers used standardized interviews and performance tests up until the end of the second year of elementary school and also conducted interviews and made observations regarding the children’s interactions with teaching staff. The goal of the results was to show how these social relationships develop on a gender-specific basis in educational contexts and via what mechanisms they affect the study and performance behavior of girls and boys.