The rapid development of information technologies in recent years is a great challenge
for cognitive psychologists. This development concerns at least two aspects, "media knowledge"
and "media skills". Moreover, increasing
technical possibilities call for individual "media knowledge" and "media skills". At the same time, their
worldwide availability through the internet changes the social settings in which the individual's
acting and learning is embedded. The key research questions of the VGK reflect both aspects:
How do persons work and learn with external representations in general
and with multimedia applications in particular?
How do members of spatially distributed working and learning groups
organize their communication and collaborations with networked computers?
The study of human cognition in the context of developing media technologies and
changing social settings is certainly a complex topic. Its investigation, however,
should not only amount in accompanying the introduction of media technologies or
in searching unsystematically for effects of using different media or different
settings. Psychological research in this field should be based on theories of human
cognition. For this reason, the VGK combines experimental laboratory research and
applied field research with theories established in the cognitive sciences.
Research questions on teaching and learning with new media are derived from theories,
for example, on external representations, causal cognition, argumentation, self-explanation,
learning, systemic reasoning, or motivation. Telematic aspects (e.g. whether computer-based
communication in learning groups is organized text-based versus audiovisual, syncroneious versus
asyncroneous, or two-point versus multipoint) are based on theories on the role of group
structures for brainstorming, information exchange, or the formation of opinions.
The faculty members' expertise in the fields of cognitive science, social psychology,
and instructional science assures that Ph.D. projects may address questions from both topics
and study them from different points of view. An evaluation of the VGK's difficulties and
success will help to learn from its experiences and to improve future implementations of
netbased, spatially distributed Ph.D. programs.
Last updated 05 Sep 2005