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Introducing Dr. Samuel Greiff

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Publié le vendredi, 14 décembre 2012

About two months ago, Dr. Samuel Greiff joined the research unit EMACS at the Faculty of Language and Literature, Humanities, Arts and Education.

Please read on to learn more about Samuel Greiff’s role and motivation for joining the University.

Please describe your work at the University!

I started about 2 months ago at UL and what I am mostly doing at the moment is trying to find my way around. There are so many things to discover and procedures to understand - it is quite overwhelming.
Once I do find my way around, I will be working in the area of educational assessment. My team develops computer-based tests of so-called 21st century skills. 21st century skills are skills that are becoming increasingly important in our society and that are applied in a range of national and international settings. Why do we do this? Because our world has changed quite a bit.

I remember that about 20 years ago I was a proud owner of a Gameboy, something everybody would consider very simplistic nowadays. So, computers and new technical equipment have become a very central part of our daily lives - in school, at the work place, but also in the private area. At the same time, the tasks we do at work have changed a lot and demands at work are much more complex than a few decades ago. So, our world has indeed changed.
Keeping this in mind, we want to know what people are good at and in which areas they may need additional help. That's why we develop assessment instruments that help us to help people, students in particular because the earlier you start supporting young people, the better the chances of permanent effects are.

Sometimes we encounter reservations about this work and about assessment in general, because people think assessment means they are put into a drawer where they are stuck for the rest of their lives. I can understand this (and I was always skeptical of tests myself), but the purpose of our assessment is not the assessment itself. In fact, it is much more about understanding and then helping people in the areas in which they may need help. To this end, I see large potentials in a number of settings, for instance for students with a migration background.

Now, this may sound a bit abstract, but on a daily basis I do number of different things such as discussing research with my team, writing down what we have found out, doing some (more or less fancy) statistics, talking to our partners around the world, and so on - and it is the diversity in my job that I enjoy the most.

Why did you choose the University of Luxembourg?

Well, some of my colleagues at my last university claimed that my reasons to join UL were largely motivated by the cheap gas prices in Luxembourg. Now, this is a nice side effect, but I was much more attracted by the active research environment with an international body of staff and students than by cheap gas prices. I saw the new campus currently built in Esch-Belval and liked the combination of tradition and orientation towards the future. Combining old values and new challenges in an international environment with diverse cultural backgrounds was something that really caught my interest and I really enjoy this atmosphere.

Further, the field of educational assessment is one that currently meets high interest in Luxembourg and a number of national and international large-scale studies are ongoing at the moment. At the same time, these studies usually work under high time pressure and have few resources available for research. It was always my vision to build up a group focused on research and having the time to do so working on new and innovative assessment instruments and I am delighted to have this opportunity now at UL.

Could you tell us a bit about your educational and professional background?

I started out as a student of psychology in Marburg, a city in central Germany. Small and old. After my bachelor in 2003, I continued in Heidelberg in the south of Germany. Even older, but a bit larger than Marburg at least. In fact, I liked it so much there, that after finishing my master in general psychology, I stayed there for several years, got my PhD in psychological assessment, and worked as a post-doc from 2010 to 2012. Already then, I was thrilled by large-scale studies such as the PISA survey and started to exploring the world of educational assessment.

After almost 10 years in Heidelberg and after crossing the age of 30, it was time for a change and I transferred from one of the oldest to one of the youngest universities in Europe - from Heidelberg to Luxembourg. The opportunities offered by UL and by the FNR, who provides funding for my project within the ATTRACT program, are a once-in-a-lifetime chance and I am trying to make the best out of it.

It is an exciting time to get settled in at an entirely new place and my team from Heidelberg, which partly joined me on this adventure, and I, are extremely excited about it.