Multiple Representations Lab
Multimedia learning environments are characterized by presenting both, verbal and pictorial information. The advantage of multimedia instruction over single medium instruction (text) can be explained by specific properties of visualizations that foster learning. That is, pictures may be particularly useful for quickly recognizing visual-spatial relationships. They also may substitute reasoning and inferences grounded in perception for cognitively demanding logical inferences, thereby relieving the cognitive system. In addition, when combined with text, visualizations support learners with interpreting the text and mentally organizing the presented relationships. Furthermore, it is argued that learning with visualizations results in an analogical knowledge representation which complements the linguistic knowledge representation derived from the text and which can also be used during reasoning. However, these potential advantages of multimedia learning are not expressed in all circumstances; rather, they depend on specific characteristics of the text and the picture as well as on the way these representational formats interact.
The Multimedia Research Lab covers two avenues of research concerning how and under which circumstances learning with multimedia in different subject areas is more beneficial than learning with only one representation:
Cognitive foundations of multimedia learning
In the first avenue of research, the question of which cognitive processes contribute to learning with different multimedia presentation formats is addressed. Here, theories and models concerning cognition and perception during learning are combined with different methods to investigate information processing (e.g., eye tracking and verbal protocols) and are interpreted by taking their relation to learning outcomes for different contents into account. An important question is how different components of working memory are involved in the processing of multimedia information.
Instructional support for multimedia learning
In the second avenue of research it is investigated how multimedia can be used to support knowledge acquisition in formal and informal contexts of learning. Specifically, we develop and evaluate instructional support measures and principles of designing multimedia instruction and transfer those to various application contexts. Among other things, these contexts are characterized by the use of innovative digital technologies such as touch-sensitive, easy-to-use tablets and large multitouch applications as well as adaptive systems, which automatically adjust to a user’s behavior. A common feature of the projects in this line of research is to study the usefulness of basic research insights regarding learning with multimedia in more applied research contexts and to optimize education in formal and informal contexts of learning, thereby contributing to a transfer of scientific knowledge into practice.