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Psychology of learning with digital media
Psychology of learning with digital media
Portrait: Maria Wirzberger M.Sc.
Maria Wirzberger M.Sc.
PhD student at the Research Training Group CrossWorlds

Research interests

  • Modeling and simulation of human cognition with cognitive and connectionist approaches
  • Application of user modeling in usability testing and cognitive ergonomics
  • Advanced statistical methods (e.g., multi-level models, time series, structural equation models)
  • Distraction and task interruption in basic and applied settings
  • Continuous cognitive load assessment by secondary tasks, speech, eye-/mouse tracking and physiology
  • User characteristics in human-computer interaction (e.g., age, gender)
  • Learner and group characteristics in collaborative learning
  • Computer-based working memory assessment with game-related approaches
since 04/2018 Research Assistant, Chair of Psychology of learning with digital media, Technische Universität Chemnitz
since 04/2017 Junior lecturer, Chair of Psychology of learning with digital media, Technische Universität Chemnitz
04/2018 - 03/2018 Research Assistant, DFG Research Training Group "CrossWorlds – Connecting virtual and real social worlds", Technische Unversität Chemnitz
02/2018 Guest lecturer within the Erasmus+ programme, Department of Psychology, Faculty of Education, Univerzita Jana Evangelisty Purkyně, Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic
01/2015 - 03/2015 Research Assistant, Chair of Cognitive Modeling in dynamic Human-Machine Systems, Technische Universität Berlin
01/2013 - 09/2014 Student Research Assistant with teaching duties (Tutor), Chair of Human-Machine Systems, Technische Universität Berlin
10/2012 - 12/2014 Master’s programme "Human Factors" (M.Sc.), Technische Universität Berlin
Master’s thesis: Smart@load? Modeling interruption while using a Smartphone-app in alternating workload conditions
09/2010 - 12/2010 Research Intern, Max Planck Research Group "Affect Across the Lifespan", Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin
04/2009 - 06/2010 Lecturer, Vocational Training Center of the Bavarian Economy (bfz), Aschaffenburg
04/2009 - 09/2012 Bachelor’s programme „Psychology“ (B.Sc.) at the FernUniversität in Hagen
Bachelor’s thesis: Experimental induction of attention distraction within the seductive detail effect
02/2008 - 03/2009 Vocational training programe "Personal Coach", Europäische Fernhochschule Hamburg
09/2006 - 12/2008 Professional occupations in pre-primary educational fields in Germany and Switzerland
09/2002 - 01/2006 Diploma programme "Inclusive Education", Evangelische Fachhochschule Rheinland-Westfalen-Lippe, Bochum
Diploma thesis: "It's easy to be a brother, but hard to be a sister?" – Gender-related perspectives on the situation of disabled childrens' brothers and sisters


"Modeling load-inducing factos in instructional design" (working title)
Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Günter Daniel Rey
Co-supervisor: Prof. Dr. Josef F. Krems

This dissertation project aims to link instructional psychology with cognitive modeling. From an instructional perspective, it focusses on the Cognitive Load Theory (CLT), separating the overall construct of cognitive load into the facets of intrinsic, extraneous and germane cognitive load. Each of them relates to certain aspects when learning from given instructional material. Although those facets are described theoretically, empirical assessment and separation is rather difficult. On this account, the cognitive architecture ACT-R is applied for its strength in formalizing basic human cognition, to derive well-founded explanations.

  • German Psychological Society, Section General Psychology
  • Cognitive Science Society
  • European Society for Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychonomic Society
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Europe Chapter
  • Association for Computing Machinery
  • International Cognitive Load Theory Association
  • Women in Cognitive Science
  • German Society for Cognitive Science

  • Erasmus+ teaching staff mobility grant for guest lecture at Univerzita Jana Evangelisty Purkyně, Ústí nad Labem, Czech Republic (February 2018)
  • InProTUC travel grant for visiting the International Meeting of the Psychonomic Society in Granada (May 2016)
  • Germany scholarship 2013/14 at the TU Berlin, funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and IBM Germany

  • Computer Science & Cognition: Workshop organized for the 47th Annual Conference of the German Informatics Society (GI) in Chemnitz
  • Extending basic and applied experimental cognitive research with ACT-R: Symposium organized for the 58th Conference of Experimental Psychologists (TeaP) in Heidelberg
Courses and associated evaluation results
Semester Name Average (school grades)
SS 2018 Seminar "Interaktive Lernmedien II" 1.3
Practice "Scripting, Gruppe A" 2.1
Practice "Statistik, Gruppe A" 1.1
2018 Seminar "Designing conducive instructions in digital learning contexts – Insights into psychological foundations and current research" 1.6
WS 2017/18 Seminar "Instruktionspsychologie" 1.0
SS 2017 Practice "Statistik, Gruppe C" 1.6
WS 2014/15 Seminar "Modellierung und Simulation in Mensch-Maschine-Systemen" not asked
SS 2014 Practice "Experimentelle Übung Mensch-Maschine-Systeme" not asked
Seminar "Interdisziplinäre Projektarbeit in der Systemtechnik" not asked
WS 2013/14 Seminar "Einführung in die Programmierung für Psychologen und Psychologinnen" not asked
Seminar "Ingenieurwissenschaftliches Projekt für Psychologen und Psychologinnen " not asked