Research Training Group
Digitally-supported teaching-and-learning environments for cognitive activation

  • Objectives: Development and empirical validation of research-based teaching-learning methods with digital tools for use in the classroom.

  • Research questions: cognitive activation in phases of learning new content

  • Cooperation partners: University of Education Freiburg and University of Freiburg

  • Funding periods: 08/2021 – 07/2024 (1st funding period), 08/2024 – 07/2027 (2nd funding period)

  • Funding: Ministry of Science, Research and the Arts Baden-Württemberg

  • Project type: Research Training Group


In the first and second funding periods , the research training group “Digitally-supported teaching-and-learning environments for cognitive activation” aims to design and empirically validate research-based teaching and learning methods with digital tools for use in existing teaching practice.. This involves developing digital tools that are effective for learning as well as generating knowledge about successful digital support for subject-related teaching and learning processes.

Typical instructional designs in the school classroom combine multiple phases to introduce novel content. Digital tools can be usefully introduced at various points. Students’ learning success depends on the quality of the digital teaching-learning settings.

In the classroom, such settings usually consist of a sequence of linked phases that pursue different purposes in achieving learning objectives. focuses on learning settings in which a divergent first learning phase (e.g. for individual exploration and prior knowledge activation) is followed by a convergent second learning phase (e.g. for consolidation and abstraction).

In, research focused on the the divergent first phase. examines the influence of specific digital tools in the subsequent convergent teaching phases.

The research in both funding periods is based on the guiding principle that it is essential for the effectiveness of cognitive activation whether and how digital tools stimulate cognitive activities (e.g. activating, generating, reflecting, integrating) that are conducive to learning. The central question – from the perspective of research and practice – is therefore how these tools must be designed so that the cognitive activation also leads to the intended cognitive activities of the learners and to the desired learning success. This question is being investigated in various subjects using different digital tools on the basis of an empirical analysis of the use of the tools.

International Conference: Enhancing Digital Education – Bridging Discovery and Direct Instruction

The University of Education Freiburg invites you to a conference on Instructional Design for Discovery from July 1st to July 2nd, 2024. Please join us as we explore strategies for integrating discovery learning, direct instruction and multi-phased instructional designs in digitally-enhanced learning environments.

Our theme “Enhancing Digital Education: Bridging Discovery and Direct Instruction” aims to combine the strengths of discovery learning and direct instruction. We will discuss their benefits, limitations, and how to effectively integrate them, especially in digital contexts.

During the conference, experts from various disciplines, including subject-specific education, educational psychology, and learning sciences, with a primary focus on digital instruction, will present and discuss their research. The keynote entitled “And the winner is…. How to decide on inquiry-based vs. direct instruction” will be given by Ton de Jong (University of Twente) on Monday, July 1 from 10:00 – 12:30.

Please visit the conference website for further information and registration details.

Funding organization