Chances and limits of (meta-)cognitive scaffolding in learning with digital media.

Self-directed learning is one of the core competencies in today’s knowledge and information society. Nevertheless, various studies show that self-directed learning is not an automatism and many learners show problems here. One possibility for support is the promotion of cognitive and metacognitive processes before and during learning. Various studies have specifically investigated how such support through so-called „scaffolding“ affects learning with digital media. In this context, there are definitely advantages in complex, interactive areas, while disadvantages are to be expected in primarily receptive learning opportunities. In addition, studies within the natural science domains (physics, geography and biology) show that metacognitive strategies can certainly be trained, but that the effect of such primarily short training sessions is quite small. Overall, this research projects aims on providing indicators of where and how (meta-)cognitive support is indicated and for which domains it is rather not.

>> Description of the research project “EXBOX Digital”<<

Aggression in Violent Computer Gaming: The Value of implicit measures

In this research project, we examine short- and long-time effects of repeated computer-gaming focusing on differences between users of violent and non-violent computer games as well as non-gaming computer users. In 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.


Educational technologies (EdTech) can provide students with early digital literacy skills to support further education in STEM. The goal of this project is to explore feasible EdTech approaches consisting of digitally enhanced instructional materials to support STEM classes. The project has a strong focus on mature technologies that are emerging for use in the classroom, such as augmented and virtual reality. In addition, the project creates structures and competencies for further development of the new EdTech Hub Salzburg initiative.

Partners: Didactics of Chemistry at the Paris Lodron University Salzburg, Pädagogische Hochschule Salzburg Stefan Zweig & Fachhochschule Salzburg (project lead).

Visual Representations in Biology Learning (Elisabeth Scheicher)

Visual representations in biology learning are often densely covered with information. Thus, instructional material such as images are often more complex and enriched than needed for a specific learning process. The aim of this dissertation is to examine how learners can benefit from different graphic visualizations with different information densities, as well as the influence of previous knowledge in interaction with these different levels of detail.

In her first study, Scheicher examines the impact of complex and difficult content on cognitive load and learning by varying information density in digital learning environments. This is operationalized by means of sequenced construction (interactive or predetermined) and static presentation.

Proficient Use of Digital Technologies in the Biology Classroom (Bettina Mann)

Proficient use of digital technologies in biology classrooms and lesson planning for biology classes is a key skill biology teachers and teacher trainees for biology need to possess in order to be able to effectively teach biology. However, most teachers and teacher trainees lack the competences necessary for meaningful use of digital technologies in class (Bos et al., 2016). Especially, technology use according to the TPACK model developed by Mishra and Koehler (2006) is still rare in biology classes. Besides, Lu and Lei (2012) identified reflection as a key tool for improving teaching. Consequently, this thesis combines reflection and TPACK in a quantitative and a qualitative study as a means to investigate effects of reflection on biology teacher training students’ TPACK.

Metacognitive Awareness and Knowledge Construction (Ines Zeitlhofer)

Learning materials should encourage learners in their learning process and motivate them to establish long-term memory representations. Recent theoretical approaches, like the Desirable Difficulty Theory (Bjork & Bjork, 2011) and Productive Failure (Kapur, 2014) have shown, that a quite high amount of cognitive load, under certain conditions, leads to better learning outcomes. However, the question of why learning is improved, has not yet been addressed. As proven decisive for academic success, this dissertation assumes the activation of learners’ metacognitive awareness as key factor for far-transfer learning outcomes. Whereas in the first study the impact of metacognitive awareness on scheme construction, task appraisal and germane cognitive load will be assessed, the second study focuses on the relation between meta-awareness, resource depletion and delayed post-tests.