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 Education is organized into seven closely related training and research programs. Two of these, Learning and Instruction and Educational Evaluation, represent continuity from the beginnings. The Psychological Aspects of Development and Education program provides a deep insight into the biological processes of learning and into the foundations of learning and instruction. Health Education is an area in applied research gaining importance. The Technologies in Education program integrates recent technological developments and a new trend in the culture of education. Social and Emotional Education program focuses on the social skills and abilities. Finally, the Content Pedagogy program focuses on the particular aspects of learning and instruction in several school subjects.

In the past years the scope of the research and training further extended, as prominent European researchers joined to the doctoral school, and the language for the major part of training is shifted to English. This growth made it possible to receive more international students from several countries.

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).