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Psychology of learning with digital media
External funding

External funding

Current projects

Digital technologies gain autonomy and meet humans in more and more places in various physical forms, for instance as self-driving vehicles, robots, and drones, but also as avatars and other smart agents with virtual bodies. Digital technologies do also connect more often to the human body as digitally augmented prosthetics, exoskeletons, and virtual reality goggles, for example. Such technologies are embodied digital technologies (EDTs). Autonomously acting EDTs and humans sharing real or virtual environments as well as humans wearing EDTs or operating artificial bodies create hybrid societies. For efficient and smooth interaction in hybrid societies, human capabilities and technological possibilities have to be analyzed with specific foci and matched in novel ways. To this end, social sciences, humanities, and engineering disciplines have to join forces. The collaborative research of these disciplines on human-machine interaction is exceptionally strong at Chemnitz University of Technology. The CRC Hybrid Societies gathers the local expertise around a core in psychology and creates an international center for empirical investigation, analysis, and development that are urgently needed to ensure the most beneficial coexistence of living and synthetic bodies in the imminent hybrid societies. The CRC’s two leading research questions are: What is required so that humans can coordinate with EDTs as smoothly as with conspecifics? And: How to design EDTs to meet these requirements? For smooth coordination in shared environments, perceiving general capabilities and situation-specific intentions of interaction partners as well as predictable and cooperative action control are needed on the sides of both humans and EDTs. Accordingly, research in the CRC is grouped in four connected research areas: (A) Embodied Sensor and Motor Capabilities encompasses sensing, predicting, and executing movements when coordinating and interacting with EDTs. (B) Artificial Bodies comprises attributing capabilities to EDTs based on the appearance of their artificial bodies and their behavior as well as experiencing artificial bodies as substitutes or extensions of the human body. (C) Shared Environments targets joint attention, spatial orientation, and coordinated behavior of humans and EDTs. Fourth, (D) Intentionality in Hybrid Societies focuses on the attribution and communication of situationspecific intentions between humans and EDTs. Thus, the CRC Hybrid Societies comprehensively addresses looming societal challenges. It arises from collaborative research projects and infrastructure in the university’s core competencies Humans and Technology, and Materials and Intelligent Systems, and will strengthen and expand them substantially - also via the CRC's integrated and internationally embedded research training group - to form a future-oriented and internationally recognized science center that generates sound scientific results ensuring beneficial hybrid societies.

More informations to this projects can you get here.
The influence of anthropomorphism and emotional valence in decorative pictures on learning with media
Experimentally confirmed design principles for multimedia learning environments are primarily based on the Cognitive Load Theory (CLT) and the Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning (CTML). These theories emphasize the limitation of the working memory and a potential cognitive overload of learners, which should be prevented by an appropriate design of instructional media. For example, it is postulated to avoid decorative pictures in learning materials. The intended use of decorative pictures is to provide an aesthetic appeal rather than present learning-relevant information. Recent empirical studies have shown that decorative pictures improve rather than reduce learning performance under certain conditions. In the proposed project, the level of anthropomorphism and emotional valence of decorative pictures are considered as central factors of influence. Anthropomorphism is defined as the mental transfer of human characteristics, motivations, intentions and emotions to non-human beings or artefacts. In contrast, valence refers to the content or the value of a presented emotion. Prior research results concerning these two variables indicate that anthropomorphism and emotional valence are closely intertwined. However, these two variables have not been systematically investigated in regard to potential interaction effects regarding their use in decorative pictures. It can be postulated that a higher degree of anthropomorphism in decorative pictures as well as decorative pictures inducing a positive valence lead to higher states of motivation and thereby improve learning. In a series of experiments (N = 160 per experiment) consisting of two laboratory and two field experiments, a 2x2 factorial between-subject design with the factors emotional valence (neutral vs. positive) and the degree of anthropomorphism (low vs. high) of decorative pictures and an additional control group without decorative pictures will be used to analyze these postulations. In a first step, two preliminary studies with 52 participants each are planned to validate the levels of both factors. Subsequently, the first and the third experiment will be conducted with university students under laboratory conditions including physiological measurements, while the second and the fourth experiment take place at school computer rooms. Cognitive load, motivation, emotion as well as retention and transfer learning scores will be measured. The learning materials of the first and the second experiment deal with the fundamentals of proteins as important components of life, whereas the third and the fourth experiment will cover the characteristics and definitions of life. The results of these experiments should thereby provide important insides into the effects of designing learning materials with decorative pictures.

The chair is involved in the Research Training Group "Connecting Virtual and Real Social Worlds" funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). The Research Training Group is concerned with interfaces between virtual and real spaces of social experience from a technology-oriented perspective grounded in media research methodology. The fields of communication, emotion, sensomotorics and learning are investigated by research teams, each consisting of a social scientist and a computer scientist. For more information regarding the Research Training Group, please visit

In cooperation with the professorship of Applied Functional Analysis from TU Chemnitz, an in-sessional e-learning course will be designed and evaluated. This course will be offered in order to reduce study discontinuations in mathematics. For this, aspects of instructional psychology and teaching methodology are taken into account. Entitled with “Digitalization of teaching in mathematics”, this European Social Fund project was first funded until 2017. The project was extended for 2018 with the purpose to adapt new mathematical courses to foreign students.

The chair successfully acquired funding for a teaching and learning project within the joint research project "Lehrpraxis im Transfer (transferring teaching practice)" of Saxon universities. The project is conducted in cooperation with the chair Educational Technologies and the Media Center of the faculty of education at TU Dresden and is funded by the Center for Didactics in Higher Education of Saxony. The teaching and learning project “ID4EM – instructional design for educational management” aims to accomplish the collaborative production of open learning resources in the context of a multi-university course cooperation. For more information about this project, please contact our research associate Sascha Schneider