KoKoHs (2011-2015)

On October 6, 2010, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research published its announcement that it would be funding the Modeling and Measuring Competencies in Higher Education (KoKoHs) research program. The first funding initiative (2011–2015) focused on theory-driven development of competency models in selected study disciplines, operationalization through adapted or newly developed test instruments, and empirical testing of the assessments for validation in higher education in Germany.

Preparations for the funding initiative included a comprehensive and systematic review of the state of national and international research on modeling and measuring competencies in higher education. The review was based on a broad search of the literature and databases (including document analysis and secondary analysis of references).

Next, an international, multidisciplinary scientific advisory board was formed to support the initiation and implementation of the new research initiative. A key event was the round table meeting in Cologne on November 25, 2010, organized by the BMBF, the DLR project management agency, and the scientific advisory board. All applicants were informed about the background and requirements of the new BMBF funding initiative and were invited to discuss ideas for funding proposals with the members of the scientific advisory board.

The international kick-off conference held in Berlin in February 2011 and the closing conference held in Mainz in November 2014 provided important impetus for the research program and offered opportunities to exchange research experiences and perspectives with international colleagues (Blömeke, S., Zlatkin-Troitschanskaia, O., Kuhn, C. & Fege, J., 2013). The large number of attendees signaled great national and international interest in the new KoKoHs funding initiative.

The funding announcement attracted 97 draft applications from research alliances from seven domains (including electrical and mechanical engineering, social and economic sciences, teacher training in MINT subjects, social studies and economic subjects, educational sciences, psychology, and generic competencies). In line with the criteria of the German Research Foundation (DFG), 24 research alliances comprising 70 single projects with 220 researchers at more than 50 higher education institutions were selected for funding. Scientific coordination among the projects was ensured by the coordination office workers.

During the first funding initiative, KoKoHs project teams developed 41 competency models and 116 corresponding assessment instruments, including 63 paper-pencil tests, 36 computer-based formats, 8 video-based formats, and 9 other formats (e.g., critical incidents). For empirical testing and validation, the instruments were administered to a total of almost 50,000 students at more than 220 institutions of higher education throughout Germany as well as in Austria. Furthermore, content validity, or curricular validity, was established through analyses of almost 1,000 documents (such as module descriptions or study regulations) from more than 250 institutions of higher education throughout Germany. Validation measures often included expert interviews and cognitive labs (with N~500 experts and N~500 participants across the 24 project alliances).

After positive external evaluation, the first KoKoHs initiative concluded on September 30, 2015.