The aims and tasks of the doctoral school

Educational sciences show the most dynamic progress among social sciences, primarily because knowledge has become the dominant factor of economic competitiveness and social development in recent decades, in a process in which the reproduction of knowledge attracts growing attention. In the most advanced regions of the world, resources, infrastructure and human capital allocated for research on learning and instruction are increasing. The dynamic progress creates a need for experts in research on learning and instruction in Europe as well.

The Doctoral School of Educational Sciences considers its main objective to train new generations of researchers for educational sciences as a branch of modern, empirically based social sciences. Its curriculum is centred around the research focus that emerged from the traditions of the University of Szeged, i.e. formal education, instruction and learning. At the same time, the objective of the Doctoral School is to prepare students for engaging in a wide spectrum of research activities related to learning and instruction, for applying a plethora of research methods, and for studying the social, economic and historical conditions of schooling.

The predecessor of the SZTE Doctoral School of Education, the Development of Cognitive Competence PhD Programme was launched in 1993. It was firmly rooted in the empirical research traditions of the (then) Department of Education, which were comprised of several projects in educational assessment and evaluation as well as experiments in learning and instruction. The first of these started in the early 1970s and focused on the development and standardisation of tests for elementary education. In the 1980s, the scope of research widened and the research focus shifted to the identification of abilities and skills that determine academic achievement. Since the 1990s, the information processing paradigm and cognitive sciences have informed our research programmes. The central questions of recent work are related to aspects of the quality of students' knowledge, e.g. the depth of understanding, the organisation of knowledge, and the developmental processes of skills and competencies.

The Doctoral School of Educational Sciences received its new accreditation in its present form in 2003. Other teaching and research units of the University of Szeged joined the core group of the previous PhD programme and prominent researchers from other universities and institutes also accepted the invitation of the School. The scope of research broadened further and the number of participating faculty members increased considerably.

The Doctoral School of Educational Sciences is organised into six closely related programmes. Two of these, Teaching and Learning and Educational Evaluation, represent continuity from the beginnings. The Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology in Education programme provides a deep insight into the biological processes of learning and into the foundations of teaching and learning. Health Education is an area in applied research gaining importance. The Information and Communication Technologies in Education programme integrates recent technological developments and a new trend in the culture of education. Finally, the History of Educationprogramme approaches educational thinking form the perspective of intellectual history.

The distinguished scientists of the Doctoral School of Educational Sciences contribute to the development of educational system in several ways, by participating in the work of academic and educational committees as well. They are active in international research associations and developmental organisations, such as the OECD's information and communication technologies projects and the Programmes for International Student Assessment (PISA).