One of our research fields focus on the structure and the development of “executive functions”. Of particular interest is the relationship between executive functions and the development of ADHD, as well as the influence on school performance. The focus hereby lies on children in preschool age, but projects in school age and adults are also ongoing.

© Aleksandra Kovacic

Executive functions are cognitive control processes necessary to regulate one’s behavior and thinking (Garon, Bryson & Smith, 2008). During childhood, a tremendous development of executive functions takes place (Garon et al., 2008). This development represents an important prerequisite for the successful accomplishment of various developmental tasks. For example, a deficit in executive functions leads to an increased risk of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD; Merkt, Siniatchkin & Petermann, 2016) and poorer school performance (Ehm, Kerner also Koerner, Gawrilow, Hasselhorn & Schmiedek, 2016; Willoughby, Blair, Wirth, Greenberg & the Familiy Life Project Investigators, 2012).

A subproject in the area of executive functions/ADHD is the ExFunKi project, which is funded by the Internal Research Grant of Helmut Schmidt University and is integrated into the IDeA Center. Here you can find more information about ExFunki. A second subproject is the development of a new testbattery to assess self-regulation in Preschoolers. This subject is funded by the publisher Hogrefe and is currently in the planning stage.

A second subproject is the development of a new testbattery to assess self-regulation in Preschoolers. This subject is funded by the publisher Hogrefe and is currently in the planning stage.


Julia Kerner auch Körner
Bianca Ulitzka
Henning Schmidt

Cooperating partners:

Prof. Caterina Gawrilow (Schulpsychologie, Universität Tübringen)
Prof. Julia Karbach (Cognition & Development Lab, Universität Koblenz-Landau)


Ehm, J.-H., Kerner auch Koerner, J., Gawrilow, C., Hasselhorn, M. & Schmiedek, F. (2016). The Association of ADHD Symptoms and Reading Acquisition During Elementary School Years. Developmental Psychology, 52 , 1445–1456.

Garon, N., Bryson, S.E. & Smith, I.M. (2008). Executive function in preschoolers: a review using an integrative framework. Psychological Bulletin, 134 , 31–60.

Merkt, J., Siniatchkin, M. & Petermann, F. (2016). Neuropsychological Measures in the Diagnosis of ADHD in Preschool: Can Developmental Research Inform Diagnostic Practice? Journal of Attention Disorders. Advance online publication. doi: 10.1177/1087054716629741

Willoughby, M.T., Blair, C.B., Wirth, R.J., Greenberg, M. & the Family Life Project Investigators. (2012). The Measurement of Executive Function at Age 5: Psychometric Properties and Relationship to Academic Achievement. Psychological Assessment, 24, 226–239.

Attitudes that are influenced by a person’s individual morality, or moral beliefs, are defined as moral attitudes and are the focus of our research. Moral attitudes are based on and manifest at three levels – the affective level (e.g., moral emotions), the cognitive level (e.g., moral reasoning), and the behavioral level (a-/moral behavior). All three levels are part of our research, although we are currently primarily concerned with the links between moral emotions and rule-breaking dissocial behavior.

Other current research topics include the influence of peers on rule-breaking dissocial behavior in adolescence, the validation of a self-developed research instrument (Questionnaire for the Assessment of Moral Attitudes in Adolescence; QAMA-A; Koglin & Daseking, 2017), and the evaluation of various violence and crime prevention projects (e.g., prevention classes and accompanied prison visits) conducted by Gefangene helfen Jugendlichen e.V.  and Gefangene helfen Jugendlichen, Switzerland.

Sara-Marie Schön

Cooperating partners:
Prof. Dr. Ute Koglin (Sonder- und Rehabilitationspädagogische Psychologie, Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg)

Gefangene helfen Jugendlichen e.V.  (Geschäftsführung: Volkert Ruhe)

Gefangene helfen Jugendliche, Schweiz (Geschäftsführung: Andrea Thelen)


Koglin, U. & Daseking, M. (2017). Fragebogen zur Erfassung moralischer Einstellungen im Jugendalter. Unveröffentlichte Publikation, Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg.

Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, there is a lack of remote support for children with learning difficulties. In fact, this unprecedented situation poses a great challenge and opportunity to deliver high-quality and effective digital learning therapy. Specifically, maths apps to improve numeracy are increasingly available, however most of these apps lack either a scientific basis or evidence for their efficacy. We are currently developing an app for modular learning therapy in mathematics (AppLeMath) to assist children, parents, learning therapists, and teachers dealing with learning difficulties in mathematics. The design of the app allows access to the learning program from different devices and from almost any location. The tasks are designed to appear like a digital game and can therefore be intuitively operated by the the children. In addition, the tasks are integrated into a hero story surrounded by music and therefore strengthen learning performance and motivation. A reward system is used beside a feedback function to enhance goal achievement. The individual tasks will be adaptively adjusted to the child’s strengths and weaknesses, and each child will be assigned exactly the tasks he or she needs to make learning progress. The app should be easy to use for parents, learning therapists and teachers. Moreover, task completion and learning progress should be monitored via a remote function.

Beyond the pandemic, the app can also be used in the classroom to enable individual support during lessons. In terms of content, basic mathematical skills that form the basis for arithmetic skills, such as magnitude relations, number knowledge, to sort numbers on a number line, understanding and recognition of mathematical relations are promoted. 


Leon Skoba

Jenny Maurer

Funded by the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) (funding code ZMI1-2521FSB101)

The school entrance examination is the only obligatory examination for all children in Germany, wherefore it is a central task of the Public Health Service (Daseking et al., 2009). From an individual medical perspective, it allows to identify children with special support requirements, whereas from a political view the data is essential for creating national and regional health and education plans (Daseking, Petermann, Simon & Waldmann, 2011).

The social-pediatric screening (SOPESS) is a validated screening instrument for assessing children’s developmental stages in the context of the health examination for school entry in many parts of Germany (Petermann, Daseking, Oldenhage & Simon, 2009). To maximize the benefit from this data, it is necessary that SOPESS is used highly standardized. From discussions with members of the Public Health Service it became apparent that there are (high) differences in application and interpretation of SOPESS within and between single health departments.

The aim of the project is to conduct structured guideline interviews with experts (pediatricians and social medical assistants) in different German health departments to point out what the differences are and which factors can be responsible for them.

Based on the results of the interviews, special online measures should be taken to intensify examiners knowledge about the correct use of SOPESS in daily routine.

Project member:

Julia Jaščenoka

Jenny Maurer

Cooperation partners:

Prof. Dr. Michael S. Urschitz (Institut für Medizinische Biometrie, Epidemiologie und Informatik, Universitätsmedizin Mainz)

Prof. Dr. Jon Genuneit (Klinik und Poliklinik für Kinder- und Jugendmedizin, Medizinische Fakultät, Universität Leipzig)

Klaus Simon (Landeszentrum Gesundheit Nordrhein-Westfalen)


Daseking, M., Petermann, F., Röske, D., Trost-Brinkhues, G., Simon, K. & Oldenhage, M. (2009). Entwicklung und Normierung des Einschulungsscreenings SOPESS. Gesundheitswesen, 71, 648-655.

Daseking, M., Petermann, F., Simon, K. & Waldmann, H.-C. (2011). Vorhersage von schulischen Lernstörungen durch SOPESS. Gesundheitswesen, 73, 650-659.

Petermann, F., Daseking, M., Oldenhage, M. & Simon, K. (2009). Sozialpädiatrisches Entwicklungsscreening für Schuleingangsuntersuchungen (SOPESS). Bielefeld: LIGA.NRW.

The project DigitLern aims to investigate the opportunities and challenges of (digital) learning and teaching at a distance during the COVID-19 pandemic for children with learning difficulties from the perspective of teachers, educational therapists and parents.

The focus is on students with special educational needs as well as children and adolescents who receive support in educational therapy.


Jenny Maurer

Dr. Angelika Becker

Cooperating partner: Dr. Johanna Hilkenmeier


Letzte Änderung: 3. July 2024