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Graduate School

Interdisciplinary Graduate School "VisDeM" at Freiburg University of Education:

Projects Overview - first funding phase (2013-2016)

Go to the projects of the second funding phase 2016-2019

  • Project A.1:

    Modelling and Investigating Visual Literacy in Schooling with focus on German and Mathematics

    Abstract:

    The use, interpretation, and construction of visual representations has central importance for learning processes of pupils in secondary schooling. Whereas prior investigations often focus on optimizing visual representations or their integration in educational material, this subproject investigates the facets or dimensions of visual literacy on the part of the learners. We take a multidisciplinary approach that includes teaching and learning contents for German and Mathematics. The aim of the project is the extraction, evaluation, and empirical validation of the required multidisciplinary and subject-specific competencies and facets when dealing with external, static representations as used, for instance, in textbooks.

    Doctoral candidate: Sammy Wafi

    Supervision: Prof. Dr. Markus Wirtz, Prof. Dr. Bärbel Barzel

    Funding: The project is funded by the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts of the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg.

  • Project B.1:

    Visualizations used in grammatical learning

    Abstract:

    Visualizations are a topic rarely referred to by research in German grammar didactics. When analyzing textbooks, they may be identified as relevant didactic instruments. This fact applies to the field of German as a foreign language in particular, where visualizations as learning aids are traditionally widely used. However, they are often reduced to their motivational function or to a memorizing aid. The specific relation between visualization and a certain grammatical learning-content is not considered. Within the research project B.1, this relation will be analyzed. Hence we will first examine different ways of didactic access to the field of sentence grammar suggested by current didactical research. As we cannot refer to an existing specific theory of grammar-learning through visualizations, we will then ask for findings of psychological and semiotic research related to learning through visualization. We will ask whether the described theories respectively their concepts of learning through visuals and the categories used for analyzing visuals can be useful for our examination of visualizations used in grammatical learning. Based on these findings, we will point out the specific requirements of these visualizations.

    Doctoral candidate: Laura Hahn

    Supervision: Prof. Dr. Petra Gretsch, Prof. Dr. Constanze Weth, Prof. Dr. Gabriele Kniffka

    Funding: The project is funded by the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts of the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg.

  • Projekt B.2:

    world/image/time/language

    Abstract:

    It is known that grammar often deals with abstract, not particularly vivid topics of which one well known example would be grammatical tense. Because of this, one may often encounter a lack of interest or even hostility towards it among students. If the didactics of grammar cannot guide them towards the abstract, they will not be able to break this lack of interest. If a student sees no connection to the reality of his or her own life, an understanding of the relevance of grammatical schooling will become difficult. This is the point where acts of visualisation usually come in because it is their purpose to turn abstractions into vivid mental images. They try to bring things closer to the student, but they, too, do not always succeed.
    In Project B.2 it will be examined how visualisations should be constructed in order that the student can grasp the correct reduction and be affected. Under which circumstances can the content of a didactic situation be decoded by the student? And also, how can visualisations of grammar be connected to the student's lifeworld?
    When one starts to think about the concrete example of visualisations, further, more general questions about perception, experience and the anchoring of the things perceived and experienced arise. It is the goal of this trial to find qualitative answers to these key questions of phenomenology by using phenomenological, hermeneutical and deconstructional approaches. Theses answers will play an important role in discussing the possibilities of didactics which place the affect of the student in their centre.

    Post-Doctoral candidate: Dr. Stefan Seeger

    Supervision: Prof. Dr. Petra Gretsch, Prof. Dr. Constanze Weth

    Funding: The project is funded by the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts of the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg.

  • Project C.1:

    Effects of different visualizations as a learning aid for the solving of linear equations

    Abstract:

    The algorithm of equivalent transforming is crucial for the solving of equations. At school the students often learn this algorithm without developing corresponding perceptions of the proceedings. A number of authors mention that different visualizations can be used as a learning aid. Hence, this project aims to examine different visualizations, based on the balance model, for the learning of equivalent transforming.

    Doctoral candidate: Anja Frech

    Supervision: Prof. Dr. Lars Holzäpfel, Prof. Dr. Timo Leuders

    Funding: The project is funded by the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts of the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg.

  • Project C.2:

    From a word problem to a result - the effectiveness of the "percentage bar" as a tool for solving percent problems

    Abstract:

    Solving percent problems is not only relevant in school-context, but it has a great importance in daily life (Sill, 2010). But there are typical types of errors that occur in this context like allocation- and calculation errors (Meißner, 1982; Berger, 1991; Hafner, 2012). The ambition is to give students a helping tool that supports both understanding and solving. The percentage bar can be this tool as it opens up intuitive possibilities for supporting. Step one (analysis of task-based interviews, grade 8) pointed out several functions of the percentage bar for example their influence in decreasing different types of errors. In addition to that findings there will be another quantitative step in order to prove mentioned findings.

    Doctoral candidate: Benjamin Thiede

    Supervision: Prof. Dr. Lars Holzäpfel, Prof. Dr. Timo Leuders

    Funding: The project is funded by the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts of the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg.

  • Project D.1:

    Understanding stories

    Abstract:

    VisDeM-Project D.1 is engaged in the development and evaluation of reading strategies for narrative texts. Reading strategy sets are generated on the basis of narratological , text-linguistic and cognitive-psychological findings. The effectiveness concerning reading comprehension and narrative competence will be interpreted by means of an intervention study with 450 six-graders.
    As a form of external visualization pictograms of narrative plot structure elements are offered as learning aids. Furthermore, after a step-by-step introduction course, students will use imagery strategies as text comprehension tools.

    Doctoral candidate: Wolfgang Bay

    Supervision: Prof. Dr. Tatjana Jesch, Prof. Dr. Joachim Pfeiffer, Dr. Michael Staiger

    Funding: The project is funded by the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts of the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg.

  • Project D.2:

    Effects of visualizations as an aid to comprehension of narrative texts

    Abstract:

    Results of research confirm that instructional pictures, i.e. pictures which are primarily informative, yield positive effects on comprehension and retention of expository text. Besides these cognitive effects, particularly decorative pictures, i.e. primarily aesthetically appealing pictures, also have an impact on affect and motivation. But only few studies have focused on the effects of pictures related to narrative texts. In most cases these pictures are representational. They show characters, objects and actions of narrative sequences. To get more insight into comprehension processes this project focuses on the question whether and which kind of pictures help fostering narrative comprehension and which affective impact different kinds of text-picture-combinations have.

    Doctoral candidate: Magdalena Kist

    Supervision: Prof. Dr. Tatjana Jesch, Prof. Dr. Joachim Pfeiffer, Dr. Michael Staiger

    Funding: The project is funded by the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts of the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg.

  • Project E.1:

    The impact of visualization on students' learning of conditional probabilities

    Abstract:

    Research in mathematics education and cognitive psychology yield many results referring to difficulties when coping with uncertain situations based on conditional probabilities. Researchers provide different strategies of visualization to face different learning obstacles. Two of these strategies concern the tree with natural frequencies and the unit square. The aim of our research is to compare the efficiency of both strategies.

    Doctoral candidate: Katharina Böcherer-Linder

    Supervision: Prof. Dr. Andreas Eichler, Prof. Dr. Markus Vogel (PH Heidelberg)

    Funding: The project is funded by the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts of the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg.

  • Project E.2:

    Changing beliefs about the benefit of statistical knowledge

    Abstract:

    In this day and age, dealing with quantitative data is very important. In contrast, many people aren't able to handle statistically-based information suitably and do not see the need for it. Therefore, this PhD-project investigates the influence of an intervention study on statistics-related beliefs of students (grade 11; university: students of health education, mathematics education, pedagogy students). The used intervention (Bayes' theorem) was constructed with a strong emphasis on visualisations respectively graphical methods (tree diagram, unit square) and real contexts to highlight the importance of statistical knowledge for daily life and the society.

    Doctoral candidate: Alexandra Sturm

    Supervision: Prof. Dr. Andreas Eichler, Prof. Dr. Katja Maaß

    Funding: The project is funded by the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts of the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg.

  • Project E.3:

    Factors that influence representational choice: students' mathematical abilities and preferences

    Abstract:

    This study focuses on the adaptive use of representations by 8th grade junior high school students (aged 13 to 15 years) when performing mathematical tasks. It is intended to analyze the relationship between the learners' preferences, their self-efficacy (cf. Gagatsis et al. 2009) and their representational abilities in a mixed methods design using questionnaires, a test and interviews.
    We investigate the influences of these factors on the representational abilities in the topic of functions. The main research question targets the relationship between the students' competence regarding the translation of different representations, their preferences for individual representations, and the adaptive use of several representations in the area of functions.
    A pre-study with 95 students (4 classes) in Germany was initiated to develop the questionnaire and the open mathematical items. In the main study with about 350 students (15 classes in 6 schools) the quantitative instrument will be implemented to find cases which are as diverse as possible regarding preferences and test performance. Tasked-based interviews will be used, to identify the characteristics of the selected cases.
    Key words: graphical and numerical representations of linear functions; preferences; self-efficacy; mixed-methods

    Doctoral candidate: Ulrike Dreher

    Supervision: Prof. Dr. Timo Leuders, Prof. Dr. Lars Holzäpfel

    Funding: The project is funded by the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts of the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg.

  • Projekt F.1:

    Visualization of everyday issues - a study on children's graphic representations

    Abstract:

    When drawing, children visualize in multifarious ways. This study observes and registers the ways in which children aged 9 to 13 approach the visual representation of everyday issues and the graphic tools they use to do so. Hence, the study is closely linked to other basic research into the drawings of children and adolescents. It also ties in with the terms of visual literacy and Bildliteralität. The aim of the study is for different concepts of visualization to emerge.

    Doctoral candidate: Ingrid Conradi

    Supervision: Prof. Dr. Thomas Heyl, Prof. Dr. Gudrun Schönknecht

    Funding: The project is funded by the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts of the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg.

  • Project F.2:

    Reading Process-Diagrams in Science Teaching: Young learners' perceptions and competencies

    Abstract:

    Visualizations are generally known as easy to read and self-explanatory and are functioning as powerful aids in making extensive content accessible at a glance. In recent years instructional visualizations have thus gained a prominent position in science education. Visuals are widely used in textbooks to depict complex processes and scientific phenomena that are not observable in the real world and verbally hardly delineable. However, empirical evidence shows that learners have considerable difficulties in understanding instructional visualizations properly. At worst, misinterpretations may interfere with basic scientific concepts and lead to further misconceptions. Therefore the need to find out more about how learners process and interpret visualizations has increasingly emerged.
    The overall objective of this interdisciplinary research project is to explore young learners' perception and interpretation of complex multimodal process-diagrams provided in grade 4-6 science textbooks. Using a qualitative-explorative approach, students' meaning construction processes are analyzed and typical difficulties are identified in order to further conceptualize the related abilities and competencies.

    Doctoral candidate: Lena Kaier

    Supervision: Prof. Dr. Gudrun Schönknecht, Prof. Dr. Thomas Heyl

    Funding: The project is funded by the Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts of the State of Baden-Wuerttemberg.