Research Projects


Third-party funded research

News in groups (Individual Marie-Curie Fellowship: 09/2021 - 08/2024)

The goal of this 3-year project, funded by the EU, is to reveal the neural mechanisms underlying the interactive process of news evaluation and sharing in a group and to investigate the impact of group feedback on news evaluation. The research project seeks at combining psychology, education, media science, and neuroscience in an interdisciplinary project, and specifically, at using brain imaging as well as the development and use of digital group awareness tools.

Humans are inherently social creatures; we evolved to live in groups and our brains have developed to thrive in social environments. We are not only able to understand others’ thoughts, emotions, opinions and values, we also wish to synchronize with others and to be understood and respected. In consequence, the opinions of others influence our thoughts, evaluations and beliefs. This is particularly true in information sharing: We use complex communication to share important information to foster development, innovation and wellbeing in our group. Social and neurocognitive mechanisms such as novelty seeking, awareness for potential dangers or the need to belong are thus powerful target points, which could be triggered to propagate information, true or false. Particularly, social media exploit these mechanisms as they directly offer tools for social interaction such sharing and liking messages received by others. Although such features seem to mimic social behavior in real life and may activate brain areas of reward, mentalising, self-referential cognition, open questions remain in how news are perceived and shared in different social contexts. Specifically, the project focuses on four research questions: 1) which factors contribute to evaluating and sharing news 2) what are the influences and dynamics of being part of a group for news evaluation and sharing 3) what are the neurocognitive correlates of news sharing and the social influence of feedback from the group 4) which measures could be taken by the group to prevent false information from spreading.

Human-centred AI in the chemical industry (hKI-Chemie) (BMBF: 06/2021 - 06/2025)

The BMBF joint project "Human-centred AI in the chemical industry" addresses the development of a method for the construction of human-centered AI to support complex logistical processes in the chemical industry. In cooperation with partners from various research institutes and the chemical industry, we investigate how AI supports human agents to make informed decisions while sustaining "human agency", a central requirement for the development of AI systems within the EU. In particular, the institute of "Psychological Research Methods - Media-based Knowledge Construction" supports the development of human-centered AI methods and the introduction of the AI applications into the workplace. Thereby, we specifically focus on the design and empirical investigation of human computer interaction while considering key psychological requirements for self-explanatory AI systems and human-AI-interaction (e.g., regarding comprehensibility, agency and acceptance).

Project website:


Harbarth, L., Gößwein, E., Bodemer, D., & Schnaubert, L. (2024). (Over)Trusting AI Recommendations: How System and Person Variables Affect Dimensions of Complacency, International Journal of Human–Computer Interaction. Advance online publication. DOI:

Harbarth, L., Bodemer, D., & Schnaubert, L. (2023). Elaborateness of explanations to understand AI recommendations. In Blikstein, P., Van Aalst, J., Kizito, R., & Brennan, K. (Eds.), Proceedings of the 17th International Conference of the Learning Sciences - ICLS 2023 (pp. 1827-1828). International Society of the Learning Sciences.


Harbarth, L., Weisenberger, C., Bodemer, D., & Schnaubert, L. (2023, August). Designing for human-AI collaboration: the effects of elaborateness and adaptability of explanations. Paper presented at the 20th biennial Conference of the European Association of Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI), 22. - 26.08.2023, Thessaloniki, Greece.

Harbarth, L., Bodemer, D., & Schnaubert, L. (2023, June). Elaborateness of Explanations to Understand AI Recommendations. Poster presented at the ISLS Annual Meeting, 10. - 15.06.2023, Montréal, Canada.

Social connectedness and the use of social resources in the initial phases of undergraduate studies (DFG: 01/2018 - 03/2022)

This project focusses on the relevance of social factors for academic success in the initial phases of undergraduate studies in science and technology. To develop a complete model for predicting academic success in order to deduce concrete measures for supporting students, the project takes emotional/motivational and knowledge-related effects of social connectedness into account. Study 1 investigates the relation of social factors and academic success of chemistry and civil engineering students based on how students use social resources for emotional/motivational and knowledge-related support. Besides social connectedness, further variables are considered that are related to socio-emotional/socio-motivational aspects, such as need to belong and to socio-cognitive aspects, such as knowledge about other students (group awareness). Study 2 explores the social connectedness of chemistry students by looking at specific relationships between students using social network analysis. This method enables the identification of interrelations between a student’s social network and individual variables, focusing on the co-evolution of the social network and emotional/motivational variables. Furthermore, this study tests relations between social connectedness and group awareness as knowledge about specific peers. Study 3 tests experimentally whether group awareness support implemented in an online learning platform fosters students’ use of social resources to gain knowledge. Specifically, we will observe whether chemistry students are supported in identifying peers who can help them to overcome academic struggles. We expect that this measure of support can compensate for any group awareness deficits that students might have in the first part of their undergraduate studies due to low social connectedness in the new social environment. All three studies consider gender differences. Thus, this project investigates relations and effects of significant social variables and academic success that enhance existing research insights in this field and complement the conceptual framework of the research unit ALSTER. Furthermore, it builds the foundations for practical measures to support students in overcoming the problems that may arise from a lack of social connectedness during the initial phases of their undergraduate studies and thus potentially leading to increased academic success.

User-Centred Social Media (DFG: 10/2015 - 03/2022)

The emergence of Social Media marks a significant step in the application of information and communication technology with a profound impact on people, businesses, and society. Social Media constitute complex sociotechnical systems, encompassing potentially very large user groups, both in public and organizational contexts, and exhibiting features such as user-generated content, social interaction and awareness, and emergent functionality. While Social Media use is widespread and increasing, significant research gaps exist with respect to analyzing and understanding the characteristics and determinants of user behaviour, both at the individual and the collective level, as well as regarding the user-centered design of Social Media systems, aiming at empowering users to better appropriate, control and adapt systems for their individual goals.  There is a growing demand in academia and in industry for scientifically trained experts that are knowledgeable both in the human-oriented and the technical aspects of Social Media.   

The Research Training Group "User-Centred Social Media" addresses this need by providing an outstanding interdisciplinary research and qualification environment, located in a University department that fully integrates researchers from computer science and psychology. Our research and qualification program  provides primarily students with a computer science and/or a psychology background with the knowledge and methods from both areas required to perform high-quality research and development in Social Media. The development of an interdisciplinary methodology forms a core part of the research program and is be reflected in the individual dissertation themes. The program comprises modular qualification components combined with interdisciplinary team structures as well as supervision and mentoring by internal and external scientists from both fields. The RTG obtains additional support through internal resources and associated researchers and benefits from the University’s strong engagement in internationalization and diversity management.

Further information about the DFG Research Training Group here.

Ambient Teacher-Learner Awareness Solution to support student-centred online teaching (ATLAS) (BMBF: 01/2021 - 04/2021)

  • Funded as part of a DAAD follow-up funding programme by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) for digitalisation
  • Proposed by: Dr. Lenka Schnaubert; Jule Krüger, M.Sc.
  • Funding period: 01/2021 - 04/2021
  • Staff: Tabea Küther, M.Sc.; Osman Tasdelen, B.Sc.; Melina Baßfeld, B.Sc.; Jana Hupe, B.Sc.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, universities had to rapidly switch to digital teaching and teachers were faced with the challenge to spontaneously transform their lectures onto digital platforms. In order to support learning in a meaningful way, it is important that teachers adapt their explanations to the needs of the students. To do this, however, they need information about the students’ current understanding, which is only available to a limited extend in digital teaching situations due to limited communication channels. It is therefore necessary to support teachers in adapting their lectures to the needs of students in real time.

For this purpose, a first tool concept was developed as part of the DigiEduHack. In this interdisciplinary project, the psychological and computer science-based development of this tool will be continued. “ATLAS: Ambient Teacher-Learner Awareness Solution” is a tool that provides teachers with knowledge-related awareness information about students during digital lectures to facilitate student-centred teaching. The concept is based on group awareness tools which are used in the field of computer-supported collaborative learning to provide learners with relevant information about group members. The processing of this information takes place in three steps: data collection, processing and presentation. The purposeful design of these steps is central to the effect of the tools in the educational context. This is why the project will investigate: a) how comprehension-related information can be collected from students without placing additional cognitive load on them, b) how this information can be processed deliberately and aggregated meaningfully on the server side, and c) how this aggregated information can then be presented to the teachers without placing additional cognitive load on them and enabling an intuitive adaptation of the teaching processes to the students’ needs. An ambient design was therefore chosen for the implementation on the teachers’ side.

Further links:

Hackathon submission:

Project website:



In addition to the projects’ proposers, the following people were involved in the development of the concept for the Hackathon: Joana Böhm, Jana Hupe, Simon Maas, Maribell Steiner, Suzana Vezjak, Jana Weniger, Yannick Wuttke, Elif Yilmaz


Krüger, J. M., Tasdelen, O., Küther, T. & Schnaubert, L. (2021). ATLAS – Ambient Teacher-Learner Awareness Solution: Ein ambient Design zur niederschwelligen Bereitstellung wissensbezogener Studierenden-Informationen in der digitalen Lehre [An ambient design for providing knowledge-related student information in digital teaching]. In A. Kienle, A. Harrer, J. M. Haake, & A. Lingnau (Eds.), DELFI 2021 – Die 19. Fachtagung Bildungstechnologien, Lecture Notes in Informatics (pp. 127-132). Bonn, Germany: Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V.

Krüger, J. M., Vogel, F., & Schnaubert, L. (2020). Synchronous online lectures in emergency remote teaching: the role of immersion, social scripts and group awareness. In H. J. So, M. M. Rodrigo, J. Mason, & A. Mitrovic (Eds.), Proceedings of the 28th International Conference on Computers in Education, Volume 2 (pp. 29-37). Asia-Pacific Society for Computers in Education.


Schnaubert, L., & Krüger, J. M. (2021, September). Unterstützung von Teacher-Student Awareness in der digitalen Vorlesung [Supporting Teacher-Student Awareness in digital lectures]. In L. Schnaubert (Organiser). Awareness Tools beim digitalen Lehren und Lernen. Symposium conducted at the conference of the Educational Psychology section of the German Psychological Society (PaePsy), 14.09. – 16.09.2021, Heidelberg, Germany (virtual).

Krüger, J. M., Tasdelen, O., Küther, T., & Schnaubert, L. (2021, September). ATLAS – Ambient Teacher-Learner Awareness Solution: Ein ambient Design zur niederschwelligen Bereitstellung wissensbezogener Studierenden-Informationen in der digitalen Lehre [An ambient design for providing knowledge-related student information in digital teaching]. Paper presented at DELFI 2021 – Die 19. Fachtagung Bildungstechnologien. 15. – 16.09.2021, Dortmund, Germany (virtual).

Schnaubert, L. (2021, Juli). Awareness tools to support learning and instruction in higher education. Invited talk at the “Pedagogical Innovation in Computer Science“ seminar (Department of Computer Science) of the Durham University, 06.07.2021, Durham, UK (virtual).

Schnaubert, L. (2021, Juni). Cognitive awareness in digital and social learning environments. Invited talk at the research colloquium of the Innovative Computing Group (Department of Computer Science) of the Durham University, 24.06.2021, Durham, UK (virtual).

Development and evaluation of a peer support application ("uniMatchUp!") (BMBF: 9/2020 - 12/2020)

Starting point for the "MatchUp!" project is the exceptional situation caused by Corona, which confronts many students with new challenges. Co-students are often the preferred resource for support but the lack of interpersonal contact makes it difficult, especially for first-year students, to connect with suitable fellow students for help-seeking and group formations. As part of the nationwide Hackathon "Wir hacken das digitale Sommersemester" (#Semesterhack), a concept for the peer support application (app) "MatchUp!" has been developed to support students in self-regulated but socially integrated learning. Support devices that support the finding and communication of fellow students based on the presentation of cognitive, behavioral, and emotional group awareness information about potential learning partners do not yet exist - "MatchUp!” will close this gap. Within the scope of this project, the app concept is to be implemented and systematically evaluated.

The scientific goals include the investigation of group awareness usage in practice in the context of a field study. Thus, the concept of group awareness itself as well as the effect on study-related variables will become more transparent as one result of the project. The technical challenge is to develop an intuitively usable mobile and web-enabled app that enables such an investigation. The concept creates an opportunity to support students in the universities’ transition to digital teaching and learning methods. In addition, the usage of group awareness information will be investigated in the university context, where only few interdisciplinary tools exist so far. The app is to be designed in such a way that it can be integrated into the university structures of the University of Duisburg-Essen but also of other universities with only little effort.


Ollesch, L., & Bodemer, D. (2021, October). Entwicklung und Evaluation der Peer Support- Applikation uniMatchUp! [Development and evaluation of the peer support application uniMatchUp!]. Invited talk at the workshop „Innovative Tools in der Hochschulbildung“ of the Zentrales Innovationsprogramm Mittelstand (ZIM) and the Paluno-Institut, 12.10.2021, Duisburg, Germany (virtual).

Ollesch, L., Kohlmann, J., Steiner, M., & Bodemer, D. (2021). Development and evaluation of the peer support web application “uniMatchUp!”. In A. Kienle, A. Harrer, J. M. Haake, & A. Lingnau (Eds.), DELFI 2021 – Die 19. Fachtagung Bildungstechnologien, Lecture Notes in Informatics (pp. 49-60). Bonn: Gesellschaft für Informatik e.V.

Further links:

Link to the Youtube video:

Link to the entry on the BMBF website:

Link to the entry in the funding portal:

Link to the Hackathon project page:

Digitized support for competence development in the workplace (Evonik Industries AG: 01/2018 - 12/2020)

  • Funded by Evonik Industries AG
  • Joint proposal with Prof. Dr. Heinz Ulrich Hoppe
  • Funding period: 01/2018 - 12/2020
  • Staff: Melanie Erkens, M.Sc.; Carolin Hensel; Lars Tennstädt, B.Sc.; Kirsten Wullenkord

Competence development in the workplace requires that trainees not only acquire specialist knowledge at a theoretical level, but are also capable of applying that knowledge competently in practice. These competencies can be developed using learning systems that enable users to organize their own learning processes and communicate with their peers. Digitalization offers a multitude of possibilities for supporting individual knowledge construction and a mutual exchange of experiences. This increases the need in scientific research and industry to design technical support for users in terms of media didactics, as well as to analyze user behavior. 

The project funded by Evonik addresses this need by developing and testing modern concepts for digitally supported competence development in the workplace. In a subproject, the Institute for “Psychological Research Methods – Media-Based Knowledge Construction” ensures the quality of learning processes by adapting proven media-didactic design principles for dynamic learning materials and social scenarios to a vocational education setting. Taking chemistry-oriented traineeships as an example, these design principles are then systematically evaluated through interviews and experimental field studies to test their efficacy and identify underlying mechanisms. The results of the studies also inform the development of a prototype, which is gradually transferred into application during the course of the project.

Data processing and functions of cognitive group awareness tools (Graduate Center Plus: 06/2019 - 12/2021)

  • Funded by the University of Duisburg-Essen (programme for the promotion of excellent early career researchers)
  • Proposed by: Dr. Lenka Schnaubert
  • Funding period: 06/2019 - 12/2021
  • Staff: Lydia Harbarth, M.Sc.; Sonja Glantz

Computer-supported collaborative learning can foster various intra- and interindividual processes beneficial for individual learning and skill development and has thus become an important field in educational psychology. As collaborative situations can be challenging for learners, there are different computer-based tools specifically designed to support learners. Cognitive Group Awareness Tools (cGATs), for example, support learners by collecting information on the learners’ cognitive status, transforming the information, and feeding it back to the learners during the collaboration. Each of these three data processing steps requires a number of decisions to be made by educators or tool designers that may affect the tool functions within the collaborative learning process. Thus, there are many very different tools reporting different effects on learning. Despite this diversity, the relationship between data processing and tool functions has not been studied systematically, yet, and it remains unclear how best to support specific tool functions by strategically designing the data processing steps within cGATs.
This project aims at closing this gap by studying the link between data processing steps and tool functions to ultimately derive recommendations for educators and tool designers. A first step towards this goal is to systematise the field. Within the start-up funding period provided by the UDE programme, I will thus develop an analyses framework containing and connecting key data processing decisions and key functions. This framework will then be used to study this link in a first empirical experiment. This work will not only be the basis for more extensive empirical research and enable a structured derivation of hypotheses regarding data processing and tool functions, but also contribute to group awareness research in general.


Schnaubert, L., Harbarth, L., & Bodemer, D. (2020). A psychological perspective on data processing in cognitive Group Awareness Tools. In M. Gresalfi & I. S. Horn (Eds.), The Interdisciplinarity of the Learning Sciences, 14th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS) 2020, Volume 2 (pp. 951-958). Nashville, TN: International Society of the Learning Sciences.

Schnaubert, L., Heimbuch, S., Erkens, M., & Bodemer, D. (2019). Cognitive group awareness tools: versatile devices to guide learners towards discrepancies. In M. Chang, H.-J. So, L.-H. Wong, F.-Y. Yu, & J. L. Shih (Eds.), Proceedings of the 27th International Conference on Computers in Education (pp. 158–164). Taiwan: Asia-Pacific Society for Computers in Education.

Supporting collaborative multi-media learning: effects of presenting knowledge-related information on learning partners (DFG: 11/2011 – 04/2015)

  • Funded by DFG (BO 2511/5-1)
  • Funding period: 11/2011 – 04/2015
  • Employees: Dipl.-Psych. Alexander Scholvien; Katharina Beeck, B.Sc.; Jeannine Heisters, B.Sc.; Maike Kappelhoff, M.Sc; Martin Neuwirth, B.Sc.

Collaboratively discussing and editing multimedia learning material provides a wide range of potential. However, it is also associated with a variety of cognitive demands.

These demands concern the material as well as the collaborative situation. For example, learners have to integrate texts, formulas and pictures mentally, plan and interpret manipulations, interrelate learning and communication contents, construct a shared knowledge base and structure the learning process. To facilitate learners in mastering these multifaceted requirements, support measures for individual multimedia learning processes were combined with so-called (cognitive) Group Awareness Tools. These tools provide visual representations of knowledge-related information on learning partners. For collaborative learning with multiple external representations as well as for collaborative learning with dynamic and interactive visualizations there is promising evidence that these combined support measures work. However, there is a lack of empirical research regarding the different modes of impact of specific Group Awareness components. The project therefore aims to identify mechanisms of action, systematically separate them, and experimentally analyse their effects on communication and learning processes.

Blended Library (MWK-BW: 10/2011 – 09/2014)

  • Funded by the Ministry of Science, Research and Arts Baden-Württemberg (MWK-BW)
  • joint proposal with Prof. Dr. Dr. Friedrich W. Hesse and Dr. Uwe Oestermeier (Knowledge Media Research Center (KMRC), Tübingen)
  • Funding period: 10/2011 – 09/2014
  • Employees: Michael Schubert, M.Sc.; Maike Kappelhoff, M.Sc.; Christian Peters, M.Sc.

In this project a concept is developed for the support of search-, cooperation- and learning processes within a physical “library of the future”, in cooperation with the University of Konstanz and the Tübingen University library. Inside this library, interactive devices and innovative visualizations will be used to integrate physical and electronic offers as well as virtual and face to face usage and thus to largely dissolve media disruption. The concepts are initially implemented to serve as best practice examples in the so-called "living labs" in the university libraries of Konstanz and Tübingen. The psychological subproject contributes to the conceptualization and assists the technological developments. On the one hand it analyses user needs regarding existing services and new developments. On the other hand it focuses on the design and experimental evaluation of innovative support measures to facilitate cooperation and learning which use interactive technologies (e.g. on a multi-touch table).

Collaborative elaboration of multimedia information services at the museum (BMBF: 05/2011 – 04/2014)

  • Funded by the BMBF under the SAW joint project "Intuitive and personalized visitor information with interactive displays in museums: contextualized - multimedia - collaborative (EyeVisit)"
  • Joint proposal with Prof. Dr. Katharina Scheiter (Knowledge Media Research Center (KMRC), Tübingen)
  • Funding period: 05/2011 – 04/2014
  • Cooperation partners: Prof. Dr. Peter Gerjets and Prof. Dr. Stephan Schwan (KMRC); Dr. Jörg Edelmann (Department of Computer Science, University of Tübingen); Dr. Sven Nommensen (Herzog Anton Ulrich-Museum, Braunschweig)
  • Employee: Laure Phillipon, M.A.

This project investigates how visitors to a museum can be supported by new technologies to inspect and discuss exhibits in a motivated and self-regulated fashion to foster understanding. For this purpose mobile devices will be deployed at the Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum in Braunschweig, with which visitors can digitally collect "findings" from the exhibition and view as well as alter them on an interactive multi-touch table. Particularly, the project examines how implicit and explicit cues on conceptual similarities and differences of collected objects can stimulate collaborative elaboration processes. In the course of the project, existing research will be extended using experimental studies and interaction analyses in laboratory and field settings to derive practical recommendations for embedding interactive technologies in historical exhibitions to foster collaboration and elaboration.

Social navigation while learning in social networks (MWK-BW & BMBF: 01/2010 – 12/2012)

  • Funded by the Ministry of Science, Research and Arts Baden-Württemberg (MWK-BW) and by the BMBF under the Science Campus Tübingen (cluster: An infrastructure for social network analysis)
  • Joint application with Dr. Jürgen Buder (Knowledge Media Research Center, Tübingen)
  • Funding period: 01/2010 – 12/2012
  • Employees: Anja Rudat, M.A.; Dr. Christina Schwind; Tim Höfling; Susanne Stoll
  • Coop eration partners: Prof. Dr. Torsten Grust; George Giogidze, M.Sc. (Department of computer science, University of Tübingen)

This project aims at integrating principles of social navigation into online discussion forums. Discussion threads in large online forums can be rather extensive, which makes it almost impossible for individuals to read the entire thread. Social navigation is one possible solution to this problem. Within social navigation, individual behaviour is influenced by aggregated behavioural traces of entire groups. More specific, navigation in forums can be facilitated, if features are available that allow to rate contributions. Filter mechanisms and visualizations provide readers and authors with information on contributions to a discussion which are particularly high quality or controversial.

The foci of the project are (1) the analysis of communication and interaction data collected in real online forums using a declarative query language for database-driven exploration of large amounts of data (in cooperation with Prof. Dr. Torsten Grust, Computer Science, University of Tübingen), (2) the experimental investigation of the impact of social navigation tools on reception and participation processes in online forums, and (3) the implementation of social navigation tools in existing online forums.

PhD projects & on-board projects

Cognitive load and metacognitive comprehension monitoring in multimedia learning (Schnaubert, Baars, Schneider)

Cooperation project: Dr. Lenka Schnaubert (University of Duisburg-Essen), Dr. Martine Baars (Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam, NL), Dr. Sascha Schneider (Technische Universität Chemnitz)

Since self-regulation processes are a central component of individual learning processes, especially in weakly structured learning environments, and the integration of multimedia learning materials into educational processes plays an increasingly important role, this project will investigate the relationship between the design of digital instructional materials, facets of mental load and effort, as well as metacognitive monitoring and control of learning processes. In cooperation with Dr. Martine Baars (Erasmus Universiteit Rotterdam) and Dr. Sascha Schneider (TU Chemnitz), this projects aims to find out how learners use cognitive processes and the associated cognitive load as indicators for metacognitive monitoring processes and thus for controlling their learning behaviour. In particular, it will be investigated whether learners differentiate between learning-facilitating and learning-hindering types of mental load in the formation of metacognitive self-evaluations. In initial studies, findings on the design principles of multimedia learning materials will be used to manipulate cognitive load facets and to investigate to what extent this affects the level and accuracy of metacomprehension, i.e. the monitoring and assessment of one's own comprehension processes. In addition to basic insights into the formation of metacomprehension, the aim is also to find out under which circumstances monitoring processes are particularly accurate. Such findings can be used, for example, to adapt multimedia learning materials not only to cognitive but also to metacognitive requirements. Based on this, further studies will include metacognitive control processes and examine the transferability to other metacognitive monitoring measures (e.g. Judgments of Learning).


Learning partner modelling and grounding in collaborative learning (Lydia Harbarth)

Computer support offers many opportunities in the field of collaborative learning, but also presents learners with various challenges. One difficulty, for example, is that learners do not always collaborate effectively and rarely establish productive interaction activities spontaneously. Tools can help support learners in taking meaningful interactions and goal-oriented procedures during collaboration. Research shows that implicit support (e.g. group awareness tools) as well as explicit support (e.g. collaboration scripts) have proven beneficial in various CSCL contexts. Collaboration scripts offer direct instructions to learners by specifying the distribution of tasks or roles, but also the order of activities, and thus support learners in communication and coordination processes. By visualizing knowledge-related information about the learning partner (e.g. task-related knowledge, opinions, assumptions), cognitive group awareness tools implicitly stimulate behavior and support learners by facilitating grounding processes and learning partner modelling.

The information about the learning partner presented by group awareness tools can serve as a basis for grounding processes during collaboration. By presenting partner information, learners can develop a learning partner model of each other, i.e. a mental representation of knowledge, opinions or assumptions. This information facilitates interaction processes that serve to build a common ground. For example, by comparing the partner information presented, differences in knowledge or opinions can be identified and serve as a starting point for discussion and exchange.

Group awareness tools have proven helpful for specific learning situations in the short term, but long-term effects have not been researched sufficiently. The aim of this research project is thus to investigate whether (1) there is a "competence" for learning partner modelling and grounding, and (2) if so, how can learning partner modelling and grounding be supported via explicit and implicit guidance?

Interplay of Different Types of Group Awareness Information in Social Media Collaborative Learning (including eye-tracking) (Lisa Ollesch)

  • Duration: 10/2018 – 09/2021
  • Lisa Ollesch

This project investigates the use of group awareness tools in Social Media. Group awareness tools have already proven to be helpful for learning processes and outcomes in various contexts. Previous research has focused on the support of cognitive (e.g. visualization of knowledge) and behavioral group awareness information (e.g. visualisation of participation), whereby emotional problems (e.g. lack of friendliness of group members) have largely been ignored and different types of group awareness information have often been investigated separately. In order to support large social media groups, the integration of different types of group awareness information can be advantageous, as these groups are confronted with different challenges. With the help of theoretical research and empirical studies, the interaction effects of different types of group awareness information will be investigated. Eye tracking will be used in these studies to determine whether more and specific fixations are linked to specific interactions and outcomes in the learning environment. In addition, it will be investigated how pupil and attentional parameters differ when a high mental effort is reported. Although there are already some promising separate findings on different group awareness tools, the special contribution of this project is that findings from cognitive, behavioral and emotional group awareness tool research are combined and systematically considered, which has not been done yet. In this context it will also be crucial to include various personality variables in order to develop a concept for an adaptive group awareness support.

Augmented Reality to Support Individual and Collaborative Learning – A Psychological Perspective on a Technological Development (Jule Krüger)

  • Duration: 02/2018 – 12/2022
  • Jule Krüger

Augmented Reality (AR) is a promising technology whose application is currently being analysed in various educational settings, both individual and collaborative. Much research in the area of “AR in Education” however examines the general usability and increase in knowledge when using AR in comparison to more traditional instruction. To ensure more systematic research concerning specific mechanisms of AR in an educational context, the research in this PhD project is based on a definition of AR that highlights three characteristics in particular:

  1. Contextuality: since AR users perceive the displayed virtual elements (e.g., objects, pictures, text) at the same time as the real world, new potentials for the linking of real context and virtual element appear than when virtual elements completely mask the real world (VR) or are clearly separated from it (screens)
  2. Interactivity: since elements in AR combine the interactive possibilities of virtual elements (e.g., the input of new data to change simulations; direct feedback when changing variables; control through input devices) with the interactive possibilities of real elements (e.g., “real” touching; gesture-based interaction), new potentials for interactions for AR users appear
  3. Spatiality: since virtual elements in AR are displayed and positioned in space, they may appear more spatial (three-dimensional) for users than elements that are displayed on a screen

These three characteristics of AR, their potential to support learning, their benefits for learning processes and results, and their interaction are analysed within the framework of this PhD project through studies including both individual and collaborative educational settings.

Influence of Group Awareness on Academic Help-Seeking within Interactive Learning Environments (Christian Schlusche)

  • Laufzeit: 02/2018 – 01/2021
  • Christian Schlusche

Academic help-seeking is a learning strategy that can improve the learning process. Unfortunately, it is rarely used among undergraduate students, especially during the first year of their studies. Perceived social costs and the lack of knowledge about peer students could inhibit seeking help, when it is needed. Information about peer students on a digital learning platform could facilitate first-year students finding competent helpers and moreover overcome emotional barriers, thus foster seeking help.

The following promotion project aims to integrate evidence of academic help-seeking (HS) research with findings of group awareness (GA) research, designing and evaluating an interactive learning environment (ILE). HS research investigates which attributes of potential helpers are fostering fruitful episodes of learning with helpers. Complementary, GA research examines how visualization of information are guiding learning processes within ILEs, e.g., facilitating selection processes. Combining both perspectives might reveal new categories of information, that fosters more effective help-seeking. The use of the new ILE shall be so intuitive that students naturally utilize this tool when working on exam preparation. Due to this the examination of motivational factors (e.g., costs of help-seeking), as well as process variables (e.g., evaluation of single help-seeking episodes; changing of behavioral patterns) shall be possible in context of students working on real tasks.

Guiding Knowledge Exchange in Collaborative Learning: Mechanisms and Potential of Text-Mining Support (Melanie Erkens)

  • Duration: 04/2015 – 05/2019
  • Melanie Erkens

Today’s increasing digitization confronts teachers with the task of redesigning not only learning content but also social interactions in digital learning environments. In addition to the challenges this poses, digitization also opens up opportunities to minimize the effort involved. One example of this is the use of text mining to automatically capture cognitive information from homework, wiki texts or other digital artifacts of learners. Such information can be used to automate group formation with optimal learner constellations. Feedback of cognitive information to the learning partners can also improve their group awareness, whereby knowledge exchange can be managed in such a way that it leads to better learning outcomes.

Against this background, the potential of text-mining methods in gathering, transforming and providing cognitive information is identified and empirically investigated in this PhD project. A partial result of the project is the design of a text mining-based tool that automates the grouping of learners and the guidance of knowledge exchange among learning partners. A further partial result is the differentiation of mechanisms of different, provided information types, from which further recommendations for the improvement of group awareness tools can be derived.


Erkens, M. & Bodemer, D. (2019). Improving collaborative learning: Guiding knowledge exchange through the provision of information about learning partners and learning contents. Computers & Education, 128, 452–472.

Erkens, M, Schneitzer, M. K., & Bodemer, D. (2018). The difference that counts: Guiding knowledge exchange by visualizing levels of co-learners’ knowledge. In J. Kay & Rosemary Luckin (Eds.), Rethinking Learning in the Digital Age: Making the Learning Sciences Count 13th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS) 2018 (Vol. 3). London, United Kingdom: International Society of the Learning Sciences.

Erkens, M., & Bodemer, D. (2017). Effects of text mining based grouping and representing on collaborative learning. Proceedings of the 17th Biennal Conference of the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI), 29.08. – 02.09.2017, Tampere, Finland.

Erkens, M., & Bodemer, D. (2017). Which visualization guides learners best? Impact of available partner- and content-related information on collaborative learning. Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning, 18. – 22.06.2017, Philadelphia, USA.

Erkens, M., Bodemer, D., & Hoppe, H. U. (2016). Improving collaborative learning in the classroom: text mining based grouping and representing. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 11(4), 387–415.

Providing cognitive and metacognitive awareness information to support regulation in individual and collaborative learning settings (Lenka Schnaubert)

Contemporary research fields in educational psychology include research on self-regulated learning and (computer-supported) collaborative learning. While both have different research traditions, they have in common that learners have to make important decisions about their learning processes. From a metacognitive self-regulation perspective, learners have to monitor their own knowledge and cognitions to make adequate control decisions. From a collaborative learning perspective, learners additionally have to monitor each other’s knowledge and cognitions to structure and coordinate their learning process together. Knowledge‑related group awareness tools are designed to assess, transform and visualise such data to guide collaborative learning processes. This dissertation aims at integrating both research traditions by (a) adopting awareness mechanisms in individual settings to foster metacognitive self-regulation and by (b) using a metacognition framework to systematically distinguish different types of knowledge-related group awareness information and analyse how they affect regulatory processes and learning outcomes. In a series of four empirical studies, these issues were investigated. The first two studies were conducted in individual settings and analysed the impact of assessing and providing metacognitive self-information (study 1) and cognitive and metacognitive partner information (study 2) on regulatory processes and learning outcomes. The second two studies were conducted in dyadic learning settings and analysed the impact of cognitive and metacognitive group awareness information on regulatory processes and learning outcomes (study 3) with an additional focus on the dyadic data structure (study 4). The results of these studies consistently show that providing cognitive and metacognitive awareness information supports regulatory processes in both individual and collaborative settings. Moreover, learners seem to integrate available cognitive and metacognitive self-, partner and group information when making study decisions. This seems to affect the learners’ confidence in their knowledge, but not knowledge gain itself. However, especially metacognitive awareness information seems to interfere with the dyadic data structure. The research conducted yields various relevant implications for research and practice and shows how metacognition research and group awareness research can complement each other to analyse and foster learning within individual and collaborative learning settings.


Schnaubert, L., & Bodemer, D. (2019). Providing different types of group awareness information to guide collaborative learning. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 14(1), 7–51.

Schnaubert, L., & Bodemer, D. (2018). What interdependence can tell us about collaborative learning: a statistical and psychological perspective. Research and Practice in Technology Enhanced Learning, 13(1), 1–18.

Schnaubert, L., & Bodemer, D. (2017). Prompting and visualising monitoring outcomes: guiding self-regulatory processes with confidence judgments. Learning and Instruction, 49, 251–262.

Schnaubert, L., & Bodemer, D. (2016). How socio-cognitive information affects individual study decisions. In C.-K. Looi, J. Polman, U. Cress, & P. Reimann (Eds.), Transforming Learning, Empowering Learners: The International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS) 2016 (pp. 274–281). Singapore, SG: International Society of the Learning Sciences.

Network visualizations as group awareness tools for computer-supported collaborative learning on social media (Marielle Dado)

Computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) provide rich contexts for learners to interact with each other and with various technological, instructional, and knowledge artifacts (e.g., web apps, learning resources) to jointly accomplish a learning goal. Social media platforms, especially social networking sites (SNS), help foster these interactions through features for communication and resource sharing. Yet they tend to lack some features for meaningful CSCL discussions, such as contextual cues that help learners know more about their co-learners. One way to overcome this is through group awareness tools that visualize key social and cognitive information about group members (e.g., activity, level of knowledge) to help groups establish a common frame of reference. The four studies included in this work contribute to research about group awareness tools by exploring their usefulness during CSCL on social media. In particular, they explored how network visualizations, which represent relations between actors in a social network, can be used as group awareness tools that depict relations between learners and artifacts in CSCL environments. Network visualizations are used in social network analysis (SNA) to measure and represent structural relations. Although a promising method, SNA is relatively less-established in CSCL compared to learning analytics, a related field that uses techniques to perform analysis on learning-related data and transforms them into applications to impact learning. Studies 1 and 2 are literature reviews of SNA as a technique to reveal important actors and relations in CSCL. Their results show that studies have limited their understanding of CSCL to direct interaction (i.e., communication) between learners. As such, they do not take into account mediated interactions between learners and artifacts in their environment. It had further emerged that messages exchanged between learners are a prominent knowledge artifact in CSCL environments. Based on these results, Studies 3 and 4 investigate network visualizations as applications in CSCL, namely as group awareness tools that visualized knowledge artifacts (i.e., terms from learners' messages) as cognitive information in a network graph (i.e., SNA as an application). These tools were evaluated in field studies to support collaborative argumentation on SNSs. The results suggest that although the tools led learners to exchange arguments with non-friends and develop awareness of multiple perspectives, these did not necessarily lead to multiple-perspective taking. The networked arrangement of group information emphasized similarities in cognitive information. This finding is different from other group awareness tools that tend to highlight dissimilarities, which learners could discuss in order to reduce any disparities. Future CSCL studies that use SNA should thus consider exploring learner-artifact interactions in order to better contextualize the relations beyond direct communication. Moreover, future studies should look into combining the tools with argumentation scripts that help learners consider the merits of discussing dissimilar cognitive information.

Supportive guidance methods for wiki-based learning and knowledge construction (Sven Heimbuch)

Building on existing theories and current research on knowledge construction with wikis, the effects of additional structuring methods, especially for wiki-based learning, were investigated. A total of five empirical studies were conducted within the framework of this PhD project. The first study examined the effects of visual highlighting of controversial arguments for wiki discussions. The results showed that additional highlights for controversial discussions have a direct impact on individual selection and reading behaviour as well as an indirect and lesser impact on learning outcomes and the quality of wiki contributions. In Study 2 it was examined whether visualizations of author knowledge and ratings by the wiki community implicitly influence the perception of readers of controversial discussions in wikis. The results showed that readers of wiki discussions follow the argumentation of a perceived expert when the author's expertise is visualized. Studies 3 and 4 examined the effects of two different collaboration script approaches. The results showed that the self-developed script is more favorable in terms of perspective takeover and integration of conflicting evidence, as well as for individual learning success and the quality of collaboratively edited articles. In Study 5, the highlights from Study 1 and the collaboration script from the previous two studies were examined in interaction with the need for cognitive closure. The results showed that people with a high need for cognitive closure benefit more from the highlights as implicit guidance in terms of learning success, while people with a low need benefit more from the collaboration script as an explicit guidance. This series of studies expands the empirical basis of research on wiki-based knowledge construction and learning processes with studies on different structuring methods and the consideration of individual differences.


Heimbuch, S. & Bodemer, D. (in press). Effects of the Need for Cognitive Closure and guidance on contribution quality in wiki-based learning. In Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Computer Supported Collaborative Learning (CSCL 2019). Lyon: The International Society of the Learning Sciences.

Heimbuch, S., Ollesch, L. & Bodemer, D. (2018). Comparing effects of two collaboration scripts on learning activities for wiki-based environments. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 13(3), 331-357.

Heimbuch S. & Bodemer D. (2018). Interaction of guidance types and the Need for Cognitive Closure in wiki-based learning. PeerJ, 6:e5541.

Heimbuch, S., & Bodemer, D. (2017). Controversy awareness on evidence-led discussions as guidance for students in wiki-based learning. The Internet and Higher Education, 33, 1–14.

Heimbuch, S. & Bodemer, D. (2016). Effects of Implicit Guidance on Contribution Quality in a Wiki-based learning environment. In Transforming Learning, Empowering Learners: The 12th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS 2016) (Volume 2), 906–909. Singapore: The International Society of the Learning Sciences.