„We can always discover a new passion along the way“

Margault Sacré from Belgium received her PhD in Educational Sciences at the University of Liège and at the University Clermont Auvergne. Initially she wanted to become a schoolteacher, but then she discovered her interest in academic research. Margault did her PhD thesis on blended learning in higher education – and now student motivation and engagement in challenging times of the pandemic are key concerns in her research. As a CONNECT-Researcher at DIPF she hopes to expand her research beyond higher education by also focusing on elementary and secondary students. In this interview, she talks about her research plans and shows us a favorite snapshot from her time at DIPF: a blossom from the Palmengarten.

Welcome at DIPF, Margault? Can you tell us something about your academic career so far?
Margault Sacré.

In December 2021, I completed my dissertation and received my PhD in Educational Sciences at the University of Liège and at the University Clermont Auvergne. My initial training was to become a schoolteacher, and the processes of learning and teaching have long fascinated me. During my master’s degree, I did my dissertation on the prevention of school dropout.
This research made me realize that what drives me as a researcher is the study of the effects of teaching practices and practices on learning variables. I learned that educational
science is an extremely vast field of study, as much in its methods and approaches, as in its themes of research. Even if we tend to focus and specialize on a few topics over the years, we can always discover a new passion along the way.

What is the focus of your current research?

Since the beginning of my graduate thesis, my research has focused on highlighting pedagogical methods and processes that promote student learning in higher education, particularly in blended learning contexts. In terms of instructional practices, many studies highlight their influence on learning at all levels of education, and instructional practices with digital tools and in the context of blended learning are certainly no exception.
My doctoral work has highlighted some useful pedagogical and motivational levers in blended courses. Building on these initial findings, I am currently working on blended teaching practices during the pandemic and how they have changed since the beginning of the pandemic, from the perspective of the teaching quality model, developed by Eckhard Klieme and his colleagues.

„I am currently working on blended teaching practices during the pandemic and how they have changed since the beginning of the pandemic.“

Student motivation and engagement in these challenging times are also key concerns in my research. Taking these variables into account is necessary insofar as the decrease in face-to-face time amplify the importance of student motivation and regulation. In essence, my research aims to analyze the relationships between these practices and student variables in order to understand the teaching and learning processes at play.

What do you hope to gain from your stay at DIPF?

The DIPF is known for its excellent methodological and theoretical approaches, and I really hope to learn from them. First, I would appreciate getting the perspectives of DIPF researchers on my data; but I also wish to be involved in DIPF’s research projects, which I find really interesting in the sense that they analyze very important and topical issues in education with depth and clarity. In addition, I hope to expand my research work beyond higher education.
I have been mostly interested in higher education students’ learning and performance, but I also want to focus on elementary and secondary students as well, and that is one of the specificities of the DIPF. Finally, networking is also of importance to me and coming to the DIPF will probably give me the opportunity to meet a lot of people working on many topics.

What are your first impressions of DIPF, of your colleagues, of living in Germany?

The welcome I received at DIPF was really warm and the people were really nice! I think it is a shame that due to the health restrictions most of the meetings are held online, but I am glad I was able to come to Germany. This is actually my first time in Frankfurt and in Germany. I visited the city center and was impressed by the buildings and architecture. I suppose this grandness is a peculiarity of Germany, but you have to actually see it to understand it. I also went to the Palmengarten – which is a very nice place to take pictures!

Thank you for the interview, Margault!

DIPF regulary opens its doors for international researchers and PHD students. At this moment the institute is welcoming three visiting researchers as part of the CONNECT program within the unit “International Cooperation in Education” (ice). CONNECT (Connecting Future Leaders in Research in Education) offers highly-qualified international PhD students and postdoctoral researchers in the field of education the opportunity to spend up to three months as a visiting researcher at the institute in Frankfurt am Main or Berlin. The programme aims to initiate lasting collaborations among young scientists. Besides being given financial support, the visiting researchers are able to fully access the DIPF infrastructure services for education research. They are mentored by a DIPF senior researcher and receive support from a peer.