Chemistry, social sciences and engineering: student success and dropout

With the “CASSIS” project, a group of scientists from the IZfB at the UDE has obtained the highest funding amount in the current round of approvals from the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in the funding line for study success and dropout with approx. one million euros. The project Chemistry, social sciences and engineering: study success and dropout (known as CASSIS) is a cooperative project headed by Prof. Dr Maik Walpuski (chemistry) with the participation of Prof. Dr Martin Lang (engineering), Prof. Dr Detlev Leutner (teaching and learning research), Prof. Dr Sabine Manzel (social sciences) and Prof. Dr Elke Sumfleth (also chemistry). The research project aims to examine institutional and individual variables that influence student dropout. The STEM subjects in particular suffer from high dropout rates and a simultaneous shortage of skilled personnel. On this point, two different types of higher education institution, namely universities and universities of applied sciences, are compared. Through this comparison, indications of institution-specific reasons for dropout are identified. In addition, two typical STEM subjects (engineering and chemistry) are compared with social sciences. The social sciences are a subject area that places very different requirements on students to those of the STEM subjects. The project aims to thus identify subject-specific reasons for dropout and success parameters. Due to the particularly large proportion of foreign and domestic students in North Rhine-Westphalia, these groups are given particular attention in the evaluation of the data. The university sample is recorded at the University of Duisburg-Essen and at one other university for each subject (chemistry: University of Bonn, engineering: RWTH Aachen, social sciences: University of Bonn). The non-university sample is collected at the universities of applied sciences in Niederrhein (all subjects) and Düsseldorf (social sciences) and at the Hochschule Ruhr West (engineering) and the Westfälische Hochschule (chemistry). In a first step, a cross-subject model is constructed to predict dropout and study success across all subjects and higher education institutions or types. For this cross-subject and cross-institutional model, in a second step the research will cover the extent to which the relationships of the variables and constructs can be described uniformly across the subjects and universities or whether and, if so, to what extent the structure of this model varies across the subjects and higher education institutions. Finally, in a third step the project will examine whether individual variables, such as migration background and educational advancement, moderate the structure of the model.


The project was funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF):



Prof. Dr. Maik Walpuski (Chemistry Education)


Prof. Dr. Martin Lang
(Technology and Technology Education)

Prof. Dr. Detlev Leutner
(Psychology of Teaching and Learning)

Prof. Dr. Sabine Manzel
(​Social Sciences Education)

Prof. Dr. ​Elke Sumfleth
(Chemistry Education)


  • Walpuski M., Fischer V., Lang M., Leutner D., Manzel S., Sumfleth E. (2021). Chemie, Sozialwissenschaften und Ingenieurwissenschaften: Studienerfolg und Studienabbruch. In: Neugebauer M., Daniel HD., Wolter A. (eds.) Studienerfolg und Studienabbruch. Springer VS, Wiesbaden.
  • Fischer, V., Walpuski, M., Lang, M., Letzner, M., Manzel, S., Motté, P. Paczulla, B., Sumfleth, E., Leutner, D., (2020). Was beeinflusst die Entscheidung zum Studienabbruch? Längsschnittliche Analysen zum Zusammenspiel von Studienzufriedenheit, Fachwissen und Abbruchintention in den Fächern Chemie, Ingenieur- und Sozialwissenschaften, ZeHf – Zeitschrift für empirische Hochschulforschung, 1, p. 55-80.