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Multiple representations

Multiple Representations Lab

Digital learning media use combinations of different representational formats, such as texts, pictures, or animations, to represent matters to be learned. A precondition for successful learning with multiple representations is that learners select information from text and picture that is essential for the content area, organize these pieces of information and link them together in memory (cognitive processes). This refers not only to learning with given representations but also to dealing with internally (mental imaging) or externally (drawing) created representations. In particular during longer learning episodes, there is also a need for learners to self-regulate the learning process. That means that learners must develop skills to correctly assess their actual state of knowledge allowing them, among other things, to plan and control future learning activities in a way that possibly still existing knowledge gaps can be closed (metacognitive processes). From the point of view of research, it is important to exactly describe these cognitive and metacognitive processes and – based hereupon – develop effective measures which can instruct learners regarding the execution of these processes (instructional support). Here, questions addressing underlying processes and how they can be instructionally supported are not only relevant from a point of view of basic science, but they are important also with regard to how digital media can be used in school and university contexts and which marginal conditions are decisive for a successful implementation.

Against this background, the work group investigates which cognitive and metacognitive information processing processes (e.g., text-picture integration, mental imaging processes, monitoring of understanding) are involved in learning with multiple representations. These findings are used to develop instructional measures supporting learners in using multiple representations (e.g., design measures for signaling connections, measures for better monitoring of understanding). In addition, the lab deals with the question how digital media can be used in schools and universities. Besides designing of digital media, the role of teachers’ media didactic competencies is addressed. Accordingly, the investigations of the lab  can be assigned to three main research fields: Cognitive and metacognitive basic principles of learning with multiple representations, instructional support in learning with multiple representations and teaching and learning with digital media. 

Team Multiple representations


Computer-based graphical feedback to scaffold students’ argumentative writing

Formative feedback can be regarded as a crucial scaffold to foster students' writing cohesive argumentative texts. However, students rarely receive feedback on their writing. Thus, computer-based feedback can be regarded as an alternative to provide formative feedback to students. The main purpose of this project is to investigate how computer-based feedback should be designed to optimally support students’ writing.

eChemBook: Development of an evidence-based digital and interactive chemistry textbook

How can the potential of digital learning material be best used to support learning processes? The eChemBook project focuses on this question. A team of researchers and practitioners developed and evaluated an evidence-based prototype of a chemistry textbook. Results are used to create design recommendations and teaching manuals that are evaluated and transferred to practice.

Learner-generated drawing

Using tablet-PCs for learning in schools is continuously growing. This dissertation project deals with how tablets can support students in constructing drawings. Constructing drawings during learning from text increases learning outcomes in scientific content domains with visual-spatial information.

Learning by explaining in the flipped classroom

In flipped classrooms the conventional instructional phases are reversed. In a first phase, students acquire basic knowledge. The subsequent classroom sessions are then used for more genuine learning activities, such as classroom discussions or problem solving. However, students tend to vary greatly in their knowledge prerequisites. In this project, we investigate how learning by explaining can be used to foster students’ individual knowledge acquisition.

Mental imagery processes when learning with text and pictures

In this project we investigate the role of mental imagery processes when learning with text and pictures. The project addresses the question whether the beneficial effect of picture presentation might be explained by the fact that pictures support or substitute imagery processes. The outcomes of this project are especially important for all fields of application where text and pictures are used as learning materials (e.g., school or university).

Multimedia in the classroom

Multimedia-based material is often used in school education to depict complex relations. However, students do not always use the material in a way that is beneficial for learning. For instance, they fail to use adequate learning strategies or do not invest enough effort. The project deals with the question of which motivational and cognitive learning strategies are helpful and how they can be supported when learning with multimedia.

Recognizing contradictory text-picture information

The project focuses on the cognitive processes involved when learning with text and pictures. It is investigated whether text and pictures are mentally integrated with each other. Since text-picture integration is the precondition for successful learning, the results of this project are central to application fields where text and pictures are used as learning materials (e.g. school or university).

Support of metacognitive processes during learning with multiple representations

While learning as, for instance, in schools, it is very important that learners are aware of their state of learning and their learning goal in order to be able to control their learning behavior with regard to their goal. For learners it is not easy to make accurate judgments of learning. This dissertation project takes a closer look at the question of how learners can be supported to make accurate judgments.

Teachers’ cognitive and motivational conditions for the effective implementation of media-based instruction

Integrating tablet-computers in the classroom can be regarded as an effective means to scaffold innovative forms of teaching and learning, for instance, through supporting the individualizing of processes of learning. So far, it is however not yet clear which cognitive and motivational conditions have to be met for teachers to plan and implement effective media-based instruction, and how teachers can be supported to effectively integrate tablets in the classroom to support students’ learning. This question with focus on teachers’ cognitive and motivational conditions will be addressed in this PhD thesis.

TüDiLab: Das Tübingen Digital Teaching Lab

The Tübingen Digital Teaching Lab (TüDiLab) simulates a classroom equipped with up-to-date digital media and data collection instruments. The project has two aims: (1) practice-oriented professionalization of teachers related to their media competence in the context of the Tübingen School of Education, and (2) research on the effects of teaching with digital media.

Using Eye Movement Modeling Examples as an instructional tool for learning with multiple representations

Learners are often not able to use essential cognitive information processing strategies in multimedia learning. Eye Movement Modeling Examples (EMME) are one possibility to convey adequate information processing strategies to learners. This dissertation project focuses on underlying factors which are influencing the effectiveness of EMME. The results of this project are relevant wherever text and pictures are used for knowledge transfer (e.g., at school or university).

Former Projects

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