Prof. Dr. Jörg Zabel

Prof. Dr. Jörg Zabel


Johannisallee 21
04103 Leipzig

Phone: +49 341 97 - 36641
Fax: +49 341 97 - 36899


I have been the head of the Biology Didactics department since 2011.

I completed my studies in education and teaching practice before teaching biology, German and ethics at a secondary school in Verden for three years. In 2003, I went to the Leibniz University Hannover (Prof. Dr. Gropengießer, biology didactics); in 2009, I completed my dissertation, in which I investigated the role of narrative for understanding evolution.

My research focuses on the understanding of biological concepts within the framework of the theory of conceptual change and the Model of Educational Reconstruction alongside narrative methods. We also look at the role and implementation of digital media in teacher training, as well as biodiversity and environmental education. Bioethics and evaluation competency are other focus points.

In addition to teaching biology didactics to students of education, I am the head of the examinations board of life sciences and am involved in promoting young researchers (VBIO).

Professional career

  • 09/1996 - 07/1997
    Graduate-Student at the University of California Santa Barbara, USA (Dept. of Evolution, Ecology and Marine Biology).
  • 11/1997 - 10/1999
    Teacher training in Lüneburg, Germany, additional qualification in ethics.
  • 02/2000 - 08/2003
    Teacher at secondary school (Gymnasium am Wall, Verden/Aller), subjects biology, German an ethics.
  • 03/2009 - 09/2011
    Postdoc at the Institute for Biology Education, Leibniz Universität Hannover.
  • since 10/2011
    Full professor and workgroup leader in biology education (Life Science / Biology education) at the Universität of Leipzig, Germany.
  • since 05/2020
    Responsible for the organization of the biology course at the University of Leipzig: This includes course advice on teacher training courses as well as regular lectures and information events.
  • since 05/2017
    Coordinator for exams in the subject biology in cooperation with the school authority in Saxony (LASUB): I coordinate the oral state exams in the subject biology every semester and mediate the communication between the school authority and our faculty in relation to examination matters.
  • 10/2019 - 09/2022
    Member of the faculty council.
  • since 10/2016
    Active Member in an association to enhance STEM lessons (MNU), as a subject specialist for biology of the State Association of Saxony (Landesverband Sachsen).
  • since 10/2017
    Activity as a nationwide consultant for Teacher Trainee Programs in relation to STEM subjects.
  • since 03/2019
    Experts for written final exams at Saxonian secondary schools:Academic appraisal of exam assignments in regard to centralized written final exams on behalf of the Kultus Ministry (SMK).


  • 10/1988 - 06/1996
    Studies of Biology (Diploma) and German Philology as second major at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen.June 1996: Teaching degree in Biology and German Philology.
  • 09/2003 - 02/2009
    Doctorate student at the Leibniz Universität Hannover, Science faculty, Institute for Biology Education.02/2009: Doctorate degree (s.c.l.). Title of dissertation: "Narrating and Teaching. The Role of Narrative for Understanding Evolution".

Panel Memberships

  • since 10/2018
    Chairman of the examination board at the faculty of biology.
  • since 06/2019
    Elected Member of faculty council of ZLS (Centre for Teacher training and school research).
  • 06/2019 - 09/2022
    Chairman of the study commission at the Center for Teacher Training and School Research.
  • since 10/2013
    Head of the working group for biology didactics at the University of Leipzig.
  • 05/2020 - 07/2022
    Member of the working group "Stil" (Studying in Leipzig).

My current research focuses on the understanding of biological concepts within the framework of the theory of conceptual change and the model of didactic reconstruction alongside narrative methods. Particularly in addition to the theory of conceptual change, my interest is focused on the exploration of learning barriers and strategies to overcome them.

Another point of my research focuses on different aspects of language and constructivism in the context of learning science, such as conceptual metaphor theory (CMT).

Furthermore, my research focuses on the identification of strategies for communicating biodiversity and bioethics. The professional development of science teachers in the field of bioethics is a special emphasis of my workgroup (AG Biologiedidaktik).

  • ECOSCOMICS - European Co-construction of a Science Webcomics Series
    Zabel, Jörg
    Duration: 02/2022 – 02/2025
    Funded by: EU Europäische Union
    Involved organisational units of Leipzig University: Biologiedidaktik
    show details
  • PraxisdigitaliS - Praxis digital gestalten in Sachsen
    Ganguin, Sonja
    Duration: 03/2020 – 12/2023
    Funded by: BMBF Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung
    Involved organisational units of Leipzig University: Sportdidaktik / Bewegungspädagogik; Fachdidaktik Geschichte; Didaktik des Englischen als Fremdsprache; Psychologie in Schule und Unterricht; Grundschuldidaktik Sachunterricht unter besonderer Berücksichtigung von Naturwissenschaft und Technik; Pädagogik im Förderschwerpunkt Sprache und Kommunikation; Medienkompetenz und Aneignungsforschung; Biologiedidaktik; Zentrum für Lehrer:innenbildung und Schulforschung; Didaktik der Informatik
    show details
  • VielFalterGarten
    Bonn, Aletta
    Duration: 08/2020 – ongoing
    Involved organisational units of Leipzig University: Biologiedidaktik
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  • LINE - Leipzig Initiative for Sustainable Development
    Vollmer, Jürgen
    Duration: 05/2021 – ongoing
    Funded by: Stiftungen Inland
    Involved organisational units of Leipzig University: Biologiedidaktik; Fakultät für Geschichte, Kunst- und Regionalwissenschaften; Erziehungswissenschaftliche Fakultät; Fakultät für Sozialwissenschaften und Philosophie; Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät; Fakultät für Mathematik und Informatik; Fakultät für Lebenswissenschaften; Fakultät für Physik und Erdsystemwissenschaften; Fakultät für Chemie und Mineralogie; Zentrum für Lehrerbildung und Schulforschung (ZLS)
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  • An opportunity to induce bottom-up change in society – Bringing the transformative potential of Citizen Science into Leipzig‘s classrooms
    Zabel, Jörg
    Duration: 12/2018 – 09/2020
    Involved organisational units of Leipzig University: Biologiedidaktik
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more projects

  • Wiegelmann, J.; Zabel, J.
    Biodiversity researchers as a model for school students: An innovative approach to foster meaningful understanding?
    Environmental Education Research. 2021. 27 (8). pp. 1245–1262.
    show details
  • Leubecher, R.; Krell, M.; Zabel, J.
    Bewertungskompetenz in der Lehramtsausbildung – Vorschlag zur Vermittlung von Professionswissen in der universitären Lehre
    Zeitschrift für Didaktik der Biologie (ZDB) - Biologie Lehren Und Lernen. 2020. pp. 1–13.
    show details
  • Zabel, J.
    Vorstellung und Theorie
    In: Reinisch, B.; Helbig, K.; Krüger, D. (Eds.)
    Wiesbaden: Springer Spektrum. 2020. p. 27.
    show details
  • Funke, M.; Zabel, J.
    BIODIGITALIS – A Concept for Integrating Digital Media In Pre-Service Biology Teacher Education (2021)
    show details
  • Zabel, J.
    Biologie verstehen: Die Rolle der Narration beim Verstehen der Evolutionstheorie
    Doctoral thesis. 2022.
    show details

more publications

Each winter and summer semester, my team and I teach the following modules: Fundamentals of Biology Didactics (Teaching Methodology for Biology I) and Biology (Teaching Methodology II), which constitutes not only a weekly lecture series but also a practical lab series (School Experiments I and II). In addition, I also oversee a semester-long seminar series for the obligatory school internships (SPS 2/3) that is offered in both the winter and summer semesters. I am also responsible for the compulsory module concerning interdisciplinary bioethics, which I not only developed and implemented but also took over complete responsibility for. On a regular basis, I also contribute to open lecture series within the framework of the university.

In addition to holding scientific lectures at both national and international conferences, I regularly lead numerous symposiums and round table discussions at these events. I am involved in the efforts to internationalize educational studies in the ARQUS framework with Graz (Austria) as a partner university.

  • module "Basics of Didactics of Biology" (lecture, lab)

    Every winter term, the module "Grundlagen der Biologiedidaktik" (Teaching Biology I) is offered, supervised and carried out by our working group. The module includes a weekly lecture as well as an accompanying laboratory internship (Schulexperimente I, beginner module for hands-on experiments in the classroom).

    In this module I also supervise the semester-accompanying school internship (SPS 2/3), which take place in both the winter and summer terms.

  • module "Specialised biology lessons" (lecture, seminar, lab)

    Every summer term my work group and I are supervising the module "Fachunterricht Biologie" (Teaching Biology II).

    This module includes a weekly lecture, under my direction, as well as a semester-accompanying seminar and laboratory internship (Schulexperimente II, advanced module for hands-on experiments in the classroom).

  • module "bioethics" (interdisciplinary faculty module)

    Responsible for the interdisciplinary bioethics elective module.

    Here, in cooperation with the student council and colleagues from the biosciences, I significantly pushed the development and implementation of this module. The module has been offered since summer semester 2019.

  • Internationalization in teacher training

    In cooperation with the International Office of the UL, my work group and I are working on promoting the mobility of student teachers in the field of biology. For this purpose, we have already organized a kick-off meeting as well as initial measures together with the Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz to implement a teaching post-related multi-subject university cooperation as well as to increase the mobility of lecturers.