Tobias Bauer, BEd MEd

Heterogeneity in Austrian Classrooms: An Intersectional Approach to explore Student Diversity and Educational Inequality

Betreuung: Nele Kampa
Zeitraum: Oktober 2022 - September 2025


The dissertation project is attached to the HeKla project ("Heterogenität im Klassenzimmer") and focuses on an intersectional approach in educational research. Due to demographic reasons such as the high number of forcibly displaced people (UNHCR, 2019), there is a growing emergence of heterogeneous students. Studies still show differences due to gender (Gaspard et al., 2022), socioeconomic status (SES; Bodovski et al., 2020) and migration background (Schipolowski et al., 2021) in several disciplines, including mathematics achievement (Cascella, 2020). To address educational inequity, it is essential for education policy to consider multiple factors simultaneously (Boudon, 1974).

To investigate the extensively researched effects of single characteristics of students (e.g., race, gender, SES) on students' achievement, the influencing interaction between those factors should be considered. To disentangle interdependencies between different factors leading to inequality, this PhD project chooses to use an intersectional quantitative approach as proposed by Cascella (2020) and Codiroli Mcmaster and Cook (2019) to address heterogeneity of students and social inequalities in education. The framework of intersectionality, coined by Crenshaw (1989), describes the mosaic of multiple, intersecting characteristics of a person that do not function in isolation, so the framework recognizes that individuals are not defined by one aspect of their identity but rather by multiple intersecting identities.

For this dissertation project, the research method will be quantitative, using primary and secondary data with an intersectional approach focusing on migration and gender. First, we will investigate how gender, migration background, SES, and their interaction affect mathematics achievement in a large-scale assessment with data of lower secondary schools in Austria. Second, a study will be conducted in secondary schools in Vienna to answer the following questions: (1a) Are there differences in the perceptions of teachers and students regarding teachers’ self-efficacy? (1b) What is the role of student characteristics such as gender and migration background, and how do their interactions affect these perception differences? (2a) Does a difference in perception between teachers and students regarding teacher self-efficacy impact students' academic achievement? (2b) What is the role of self-esteem and academic self-concept in this mechanism?

At the end, the dissertation project focuses on the question of whether an intersectional approach in educational science, as proposed by Codiroli Mcmaster and Cook (2019), is useful and in which contexts it is most applicable. The aim is to determine whether practitioners and educational scientists can benefit from this approach.


Bodovski, K., Munoz, I., Byun, S., & Chykina, V. (2020). Do Education System Characteristics Moderate the Socioeconomic, Gender and Immigrant Gaps in Math and Science Achievement? International Journal of Sociology of Education, 9(2), 122–154.

Boudon, R. (1974). Education, opportunity, and social inequality : changing prospects in Western society. The Wiley series in urban research A Wiley-Interscience publication. Wiley.

Cascella, C. (2020). Exploring the complex relationship between students’ reading skills and their performance in mathematics: a population-based study. Educational Research and Evaluation, 26(3-4), 126–149.

Codiroli Mcmaster, N., & Cook, R. (2019). The contribution of intersectionality to quantitative research into educational inequalities. Review of Education, 7(2), 271–292.

Crenshaw, K. (1989). Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimation Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics. University of Chicago Legal Forum(1), Article 8, 139–167.

Gaspard, H., Nagengast, B., Trautwein, U., Jaekel, A.‑K., & Göllner, R. (2022). Heterogenität in motivationalen Entwicklungsverläufen in Mathematik und Deutsch in Abhängigkeit von Schulform und Geschlecht. Zeitschrift Für Erziehungswissenschaft, 25(2), 293–327.

Schipolowski, S., Edele, A., Mahler, N., & Stanat, P. (2021). Mathematics and science proficiency of young refugees in secondary schools in Germany. Journal for Educational Research Online, 2021(1), 78–104.