Posts Tagged ‘Research’

In a report, based on the PISA study in 2006, the Austrian Bundesinstitut for Educational Research Innovation and Development (BIFIE) recommends Steiner Waldorf schools as models for teaching in the sciences. According to the PISA study, Austrian Steiner Waldorf schools are better at teaching the sciences than schools in OECD countries and Austrian schools in general. The report writes:

The results of pupils at Waldorf schools in the sciences are better than the average for pupils in OECD countries with 524 points and 500 points respectively and are also higher than the average for Austrian schools. In comparison, the average results in this area lie between the two higher school types (AHS, BHS) and the occupational middle schools. The difference in results is smallest in the sciences in relation to the AHS with 50 test points and to the BHS with 30 test points in comparison to the two other areas of competence (reading and mathematics)

It also writes

Recommendations for educational policies based on the PISA results can be made especially for the teaching of natural science. Based on the relatively high competence of Waldorf pupils in natural science, combined with exceptionally high indicators of motivation and reflective cognition in these subjects as well as the different pedagogical principles, it is reasonable to conclude that public education can learn from the Steiner Waldorf schools, in particular with regard to being able to concretely apply knowledge in natural science.

(In the original:

Die Schüler/innen der Waldorfschulen liegen in Naturwissenschaft mit 524 Testpunkten über dem OECD-Mittelwert von 500 und auch über dem österreichischen Mittelwert. Im Vergleich zeigt sich bei diesem Kompetenzbereich, dass die durchschnittlichen Leistungen der Waldorfschulen zwischen den beiden höheren Schulsparten (AHS, BHS) und den Berufsbildenden Mittleren Schulen (BMS) liegen. Die Leistungsdifferenz zur AHS mit gut 50 Testpunkten und zur BHS mit gut 30 Testpunkten ist im Vergleich zu den anderen beiden Kompetenzbereichen (Lesen und Mathematik) am geringsten.


Bildungspolitische Empfehlungen auf Basis dieser Ergebnisse lassen sich vor allem für den Unterricht in naturwissenschaftlichen Fächern ableiten. Auf Grund der relativ hohen Naturwissenschafts-Kompetenz der Waldorfschüler/innen in Kombination mit äußerst hohen motivationalen Merkmalen und selbstbezogenen Kognitionen in diesen Fächern sowie den unterschiedlichen didaktischen Prinzipien liegt der Schluss nahe, dass die Regelschule von der Waldorfschule lernen kann, insbesondere was den konkreten Anwendungsbezug in der Naturwissenschaft betrifft

For the full  report by the research institute,  see

”Kompetenzen und individuelle Merkmale der Waldorfschüler/innen im Vergleich” by Christina Wallner-Paschon


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Since the beginning of the year, the Rudolf Steiner University College in Oslo, Norway and the Alanus University of Arts and Social Sciences in Alfter, Germany publish a research journal on Steiner Waldorf education.

The journal, RoSE: Research on Steiner Education is an on-line, bilingual (English and German) peer-reviewed academic journal with the purpose of serving the theoretical and practical development of Steiner Waldorf education in ways that are relevant to our contemporary globalising world.

RoSE wishes to establish links and dialogues between Steiner education and other alternative as well as mainstream educational discourses and practices. The journal publishes articles based on empirical as well as on theoretical or philosophical research.

Reviews of books, Doctoral and Master’s Theses are also part of the journal. The journal welcomes both critical and appreciative approaches to Steiner education, as long as they adhere to general academic standards. While the journal finds references to Rudolf Steiner’s works natural considering the purpose of the journal, the journal also welcomes papers that do not refer to Steiner as long as they are otherwise relevant to the journal’s purpose.

Articles that engage in rigorous dialogue between Steiner philosophy/pedagogy and other, particularly contemporary, pedagogical, psychological or philosophical approaches are especially welcome. The journal publishes two issues per year. Submitted papers will be anonymously peer-reviewed by two members of the editorial board, or by academic colleagues especially chosen by these members.

The first issue of the journal was published in January 2010. The second issue will be published in November 2010.

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According to an independent study in 2005, Waldorf pupils are least hostile to foreigners of all German pupils.

The study that was done by the Criminological Research Institute in Niedersachsen, was made at the request of the Greens in the German parliament, to investigate the extent of right wing extremism and hostility to foreigners among pupils at German schools.

Hostility to non-Germans

Acording to the study, of German pupils with two German parents, 24.7 % of the pupils at ”Hauptschulen” (main schools) expressed hostility to non-Germans.

The same holds for 20.2 % of the pupils at ”Realschulen”, 16.3 % of the pupils at ”Gesamtschulen” and 8.4 % of the pupils at ”Gymnasien” (High Schools).

Among pupils at Waldorf schools, the percentage of pupils who expressed hostility to non-Germans was lowest among all German pupils, 2.4%.

Right wing extremist views

The results were similar with regard to extremist right wing views.

The percentage of pupils who expressed extremist right wing attitudes was 9.5 % at ”Hauptschulen” (main schools), 6.0 % for pupils at ”Realschulen”, 4.8 % at ”Gesamtschulen”, and 2.8 % for pupils at ”Gymnasien” (High Schools).

The corresponding figure for pupils at Waldorf schools was 1.2 %.

Dirk Baier, Susann Rabold, Christian Pfeiffer (Kriminologisches Forschungsinstitut Niedersachsen): Ausmaß, Ursachen und Entwicklung von fremdenfeindlichen und rechtsextremen Einstellungen bei deutschen Jugendlichen. Stellungnahme zum Antrag der Fraktion Bündnis 90/Die Grünen betreffend der Bekämpfung des Rechtsextremismus in Hessen (Drucksache 16/6708)

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A US dissertation in 2001 on the moral reasoning of high school seniors from diverse educational settings found that Waldorf-educated students scored significantly higher on a test of moral reasoning than students in public high schools and students in a religiously-affiliated high school. Waldorf students were also far more likely to volunteer opinions about the survey and research in general, suggesting possible improvements in the survey technique and offering new possibilities to resolve the moral dilemmas raised in the survey.

Hether, Christine Anne, The moral reasoning of high school seniors from diverse educational settings, Ph.D. dissertation, Saybrook Graduate School and Research Center, 2001, 209 pages; AAT 3044032

Source: Waldorf education article at Wikipedia

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A british study comparing the drawing ability of children in Steiner/Waldorf, Montessori and traditional schools has concluded that

”the approach to art education in Steiner schools is conducive not only to more highly rated imaginative drawings in terms of general drawing ability and use of color but also to more accurate and detailed observational drawings,”

while another, international study has found that Waldorf pupils average higher scores on the Torrance Test of Creative Thinking Ability than state-school students.

According to the study, this

”suggested that Waldorf students were more creative than their state school peers. Particular credit for this was given to the maturational-readiness and nurturing curriculum of the Waldorf Schools, which includes: having the same teacher follow students from grades 1 to 8; de-emphasis on academic performance in early grades; use of art in instruction; and other teaching and curriculum considerations.

Source: Waldorf education article at Wikipedia

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A major quantitative and qualitative study of senior secondary students in the three largest Steiner schools in Australia was undertaken by Jennifer Gidley in the mid-nineties. It investigated the Steiner-educated students’ views and visions of the future, replicating a major study with a large cross-section of mainstream and other private school students undertaken a few years prior.

The findings as summarised below contrasted markedly in some areas with the research from mainstream students at the time.

  • Steiner-educated students were able to develop richer, more detailed images of their ‘preferred futures’ than mainstream students.
  • About three-quarters were able to envision positive changes in both the environment and human development; almost two-thirds were able to imagine positive changes in the socio-economic area;
  • They tended to focus on ‘social’ rather than ‘technological’ ways of solving problems;
  • In envisioning futures without war, their visions primarily related to improvements in human relationships and communication through dialogue and conflict resolution rather than a ‘passive peace’ image;
  • 75% had many ideas on what aspects of human development (including their own) needed to be changed to enable the fulfilment of their aspirations. These included more activism, value changes, spirituality, future care and better education;
  • In spite of identifying many of the same concerns as other students – global-scale environmental destruction, social injustice and threats of war – most of the Steiner students seemed undaunted in terms of their own will to do something to create their ‘preferred future’;
  • There were no gender differences found in the students’ preferred futures visions or in the richness and fluidity of their creative images.

An Australian Study of academic success at university

An Australian study comparing the academic performance of students at university level found that students who had been at Waldorf schools significantly outperformed their peers from non-Waldorf schools in both the humanities and the sciences.

In 2008, the Rudolf Steiner Schools Association of Australia funded a research project to investigate the relationships between Steiner pedagogy and related 21st century academic discourses. The report on the project is called ”Turning Tides: Creating Dialogue between Rudolf Steiner and 21st Century Academic Discourses”. A bibliography of all the studies that were identified is also available online as is the extended project data.

– Gidley, J. (1998). ”Prospective Youth Visions through Imaginative Education.” Futures: The journal of policy, planning and futures studies 30(5): 395–408.
– Gidley, J. (2002). Holistic Education and Visions of Rehumanized Futures. Youth Futures: Comparative Research and Transformative Visions. J. Gidley and S. Inayatullah. Westport, Connecticut, Praeger: 155-168.
– Hutchinson, F. (1992). Futures consciousness and the school: Explorations of broad and narrow literacies for the twenty-first century with particular reference to Australian young people. Armidale NSW, University of New England: 410.
”Sunday Night” broadcast of July 15, 2007
”Turning Tides: Creating Dialogue between Rudolf Steiner and 21st Century Academic Discourses.
Bibligraphy of Gidley Steiner Project
Steiner-related PhD and Masters dissertations

Source: Waldorf education article at Wikipedia

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A UK Department for Education and Skills report in 2005 noted significant differences in curriculum and pedagogical approach between Waldorf/Steiner and mainstream schools and suggested that each type of school could learn from the other type’s strengths: in particular, that state schools could benefit from Waldorf education’s

– early introduction and approach to modern foreign languages;

– combination of block (class) and subject teaching for younger children;

– development of speaking and listening through an emphasis on oral work;

– good pacing of lessons through an emphasis on rhythm;

– emphasis on child development guiding the curriculum and examinations;

– approach to art and creativity;

– attention given to teachers’ reflective activity and heightened awareness (in collective child study for example); and

– collegial structure of leadership and management, including collegial study.

Aspects of mainstream practice which could inform good practice in Waldorf schools included: management skills and ways of improving organizational and administrative efficiency; classroom management; work with secondary-school age children; and assessment and record keeping.

A 2008 report by the Cambridge-based Primary Review found that Steiner/Waldorf schools achieved superior academic results to English state schools.

Source: Waldorf education article at Wikipedia

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