Research at the Department of E-Learning in Science Education addresses several topics in the area of Science Education, Learning with New Media and Instructional Psychology. The following topics are a selection of current research projects and programs.

Learning with Hypermedia: Towards a contemporay model of Cognitive Load and Text Comprehension in non-linear learning environments

In hypertext learning, comparative research is mostly dedicated to differences in text-hypertext information retrieval and processing and to optimization of non-linear information retrieval. Most of these investigations are conducted within the context of applied research. The theoretical background of information acquisition from linear and non-linear text forms has not received much attention here. Our research contributes to change the concept of cognitive overhead using text comprehension models as well as Cognitive Load Theory. Similarities and differences in cognitive load during text and hypertext comprehension are addressed within this context. We suggest here a contemporary model of cognitive load and text comprehension.

Learning with Hyperaudio: m-Learning with auditory instruction

Instructional Design using non-linear information media has become an established research area in applied learning sciences and cognitive psychology. Although there are many studies focusing on navigation strategies within non-linear hypertext and hypermedia, there is little or no contemporary research on non-linear audio-based learning environments. Non-linear audio learning environments (Hyperaudio) provide several opportunities of flexible and ubiquitous learning, e.g. by using cellular phones. As cognitive mechanisms in hyperaudio learning are different from mechanisms in hypermedia learning, issues of non-linear audio in learning environments have to be carefully examined. In several studies we examined the effects of hyperaudio learning environments on learning processes and outcomes. Results suggest that learning with hyperaudio opens a new research field offering a wide range of potential applications. Nevertheless, in order to gain benefits and to avoid cognitive overload in non-linear auditory learning environments the learning material has to be carefully designed.

Problem-Based Learning: Analysing and Fostering Problem-Based Learning

Problem-Based Learning (PBL) is a learner-centered approach for designing learning environments anchored in authentic, ill-structured problems. In PBL students collaborate within small groups facilitated by a tutor. Phases of small group and self-directed learning alternate on a regular basis. By working on a specific series of problems students will reach objectives of a course or a cur-riculum primarily working for themselves rather than being (directly) instructed. This research focuses on PBL, its methods, background in educational theory, empirical results in curriculum research as well as variations in PBL methods. Furthermore, a major concern of this work is to analyze and discuss the use of the internet as a distribution platform for distributed Problem-Based Learning (dPBL) courses.

Aggression in Violent Computer Gaming: The Value of implicit measures

This research examines short- and long-time effects of repeated computer-gaming focussing on differences between users of violent and non-violent computer games as well as non-gaming computer users. In a experimental and quasi-experimental studies we apply implicit and explicit measures of aggressiveness to adults. Methods include explicit questionnaires, Implicit Association Tests (IAT), and physiological parameters.

Computers in Biology Education: Instructionals methods and approches

The life sciences, in particular molecular genetics, have become a pivotal area of research and innovation, and at the same time are amongst the most controversially discussed in today’s society. Despite this discussion, the demand for life science expertise increases rapidly, creating a growing need for life science education in particular and for science education in general, given that progress in this area depends on progress in biology, chemistry, computer science, and some others. In this research, an approach to science education is suggested that combines guided knowledge acquisition with hands-on experience in a computer-based learning environment. The pedagogical rationale for the learning environment are delineated and grounded in research in the learning sciences. The results of a first evaluation of the main features, comprising in addition to a virtual experimental workbench various scaffolding tools, among them a pedagogical agent, and a report/presentation tool, indicate that students profited equally form working with the program, independent of differences in prior knowledge and interest.

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