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    Developmental Psychology

    Research projects

    A media sign literacy training program for kindergarten children (2019-2022)

    Project funded by the German Research Association (DFG)

    Project leaders: Prof. Dr. Gerhild Nieding (JMU Würzburg), PD Dr. Katharina Diergarten (JMU Würzburg), Prof. Dr. Peter Ohler (TU Chemnitz), Dr. Sabine Völkel (TU Chemnitz)

    Research associates: Marie Sophie Hunze (JMU Würzburg), Franziska Freudenberger (JMU Würzburg), Dr. Ing. Georg Valtin (TU Chemnitz), Oliver Rehren (TU Chemnitz)

    Even at the kindergarten age, media literacy is an important factor in the development of educational relevant skills and is a predictor for the acquisition of later academic skills. The DFG-funded project "Training of Media Sign Literacy in Kindergarten" is a cooperation between the JMU Würzburg and the TU Chemnitz. The aim is to develop and evaluate a training program to promote media sign skills among 4- to 5-year-olds, which can be used independently in the kindergarten by educators. In addition to the effect on media literacy, the impact of the training on educational skills and the learning effectiveness of digital media will be examined. For this purpose, a long-term study over two years will be conducted at the sites of Würzburg and Chemnitz.

    The total duration of the project is three years. For this purpose, employees from both the developmental psychology department and the Media Center are working on the project in Würzburg. In addition, new doctoral positions will be created in Würzburg and in Chemnitz.

    The Development of Cognitive Film Processing 2: Second Period (2015-2019)

    Project supported by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

    Research focuses on the influence of different forms of presentation (written text, auditory text, auditory text + images) on cognitive processing and comprehension of given content by children of different ages.

    The core results of the first project period show that first graders in particular comprehend a text presented auditorily more easily if images, illustrating the content of the text, are presented simultaneously. In grade 4 and 6, the form of presentation does not seem to have an influence on text comprehension. For the sample of adults, the best text comprehension could be demonstrated for the written presentation of text.

    Having restricted the use of images to static ones in phase 1 of the project, phase 2 focuses on the (additional) benefit of animated images.

    Three experiments are planned that - with the construction of mental situational models, the creation of local and global interferences, and mental representations of movement information - each focus on a different important aspect of text comprehension. Due to the tremendous development occuring during primary-school age, tests will include first, second, forth and sixth graders as well as adults to some extend.

    Publications

    Hauf, J., Nieding, G. & Seger, B. T. (2020). The development of dynamic perceptual simulations during sentence comprehension. Cognitive Processing, published online. doi: 10.1007/s10339-020-00959-7.

    Seger B. T., Hauf, J. E. K., & Nieding, G. (2020). Perceptual simulation of vertical object movement during comprehension of auditory and audiovisual text in children and adults. Discourse Processes, 57(5-6), 460-472. doi: 10.1080/0163853X.2020.1755801.

    Media and Social Change: Media Literacy in Youth and Early Adulthood as a Resilience Factor (2013-2017)

    Project supported by Bayerisches Staatsministerium für Bildung und Kultus, Wissenschaft und Kunst as part of the Bavarian Research Network "Fit for Change"

    From a (developmental) psychological perspective, resilience can be understood as adaptability resp. the ability to master one´s own development despite possible unfavorable circumstances. Since media are genuinely integrated in processes of constant dynamic changes of different areas of society and often in part account for these changes, it becomes a necessary resilience factor for an individual to be able to competently engage with media.

    The project focuses on the examination of media literacy of adolescents and young adults within the frame of a longitudinal survey by using a computer-based online test.
    The objective is to test the assumption of media literacy constituting a resilience factor for accelerated societal processes of change. For this, additional relevant cognitive and socio-emotional variables will be included. Based on the results, a media competence training will be developed and tested. With regard to effectiveness of the training, different control groups will be compared.

    See also:

    www.forchange.de

    www.bayfor.org/de/geschaeftsbereich/forschungsverbuende/welt-der-kultur/forchange.html

    The Development of Cognitive Film Processing 1: First Period (2012-2015)

    Project supported by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

    To students in pre- and elementary school, information is increasingly provided via films. This includes educational programs on TV and educational films within a school context.
    However, up to now hardly any studies exist dealing with the question of what basic cognitive processes underlie the comprehension of (educational) films by children. In particular, it is not clear if and to what extent films provide the opportunity to intelligibly present and teach complex subject matter to pre- and elementary school aged users as opposed to other forms of presentation, i.e. auditive or written presentation.

    The project examines the development of processing audio-visual texts (films) for students in pre- and elementary school. Within the frame of three experiments, involving children 6, 8 and 10 years old as well as adults, the influence of audio-visual forms of presentation will be directly compared to visual forms of presentation. For older subjects, the direct comparison will comprise written forms of presentation. To illustrate cognitive processes taking place during text processing, online measurements are applied. Processes will be looked at that are of particular relevance for the comprehension of text according to psychological research focusing on text comprehension. These include processes involved in the creation of mental situation models, text coherence as well as functions and utilised capacity of the working memory during text comprehension.
    The objective is to test the assumption that audio-visual forms of presentation build and support cognitive processes relevant for text comprehension at an early stage. During development, auditive and - at a later stage - written texts should gain importance.

    Publications

    Seger, B., Wannagat, W., & Nieding, G. (2019). How pictures and picture animations contribute to multi-level mental representations of auditory text in 7-, 9-, and 11-year-old children. Journal of Cognition and Development, 20(4), 573-591. doi:10.1080/15248372.2019.1636799.

    Wannagat, W., Waizenegger, G., Hauf, J., & Nieding, G. (2018). Mental representations of the text surface, the text base, and the situation model in auditory and audiovisual texts in 7-, 9-, and 11-year-olds. Discourse Processes, 55(3), 209-304. doi:10.1080/0163853X.2016.1237246.

    Wannagat, W., Waizenegger, G., & Nieding, G. (2017). Multi-level mental representations of written, auditory, and audiovisual text in children and adults. Cognitive Processing, 18(4), 491-504. doi:10.1007/s10339-017-0820-y.

    The Acquisition of Media Sign Literacy in Pre- and Elementary School Children: Basic Principles and Application (2006-2010)

    Project supported by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
    Project in cooperation with TU Chemnitz

    It is often demanded to impart "media competence" to children at an early stage. However, only little is known about the development of this ability during pre- and elementary school age. The research focused on the development of a core area of media literacy, i.e. the competence to comprehend medial sign systems. Within the frame of a longitudinal study (originally comprising N=192 4-year-old children), the medial sign literacy from the age of 4 to the start of elementary school was determined at semi-annual intervals by applying a comprehensive computer-based online test. Reading and writing skills as well as mathematical competence at the end of first grade (6th point of measurement) are positively influenced by medial sign literacy. For the first time, evidence has been provided that medial sign literacy allows for predicition and boost of a later acquisition of skills that are educationally relevant. Further studies have shown that children with high media sign literacy use learning media (e.g. hypertext and educational films) more efficiently. Media literacy has a positive effect at preschool age. Further, an eye-tracking study with 4-, 6- and 10-year-old children provided evidence for a critical timespan for the acquisition of film-based media literacy between the age of 4 and 8.

    Effects of Early Fostering Mathematic Competencies 2: Second Period (2006-2008)

    Project supported by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

    In the area of mathematical competences, a program for early promotion of mathematical skills was developed ( "Mengen, zählen, Zahlen" [MZZ]; Krajewski, Nieding & Schneider, 2007), building on current developmental and neuro-psychological findings. These findings suggest that for the development of mathematical skills the understanding of quantities and the understanding of numbers need to be merged. Within the frame of a longitudinal study, it was shown that quantity-related as well as number-related pre-existing knowledge is among the basic skills that are pre-conditional to the acqusition of mathematical competence in elementary school.

    The program is implemented in small groups by kindergarten teachers throughtout Germany in the last year of kindergarten (8 weeks at 3 half-hour sessions). The program was reviewed with regard to its effectiveness by using a longitudinal study with 260 preschoolers (Krajewski, Nieding & Schneider, 2007). Control groups were given either general brainteasers or a different program for the promotion of mathematical skills. A fourth group was not trained at all.

    The results of the study show that the children of the MZZ-Group demonstrate a higher level of quantitative-numeral competence than the control groups, in both short and long term.

    Effects of Early Fostering Mathematic Competencies 1: First Period (2004-2006)

    Project supported by Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

    In the area of mathematical competences, a program for early promotion of mathematical skills was developed ( "Mengen, zählen, Zahlen" [MZZ]; Krajewski, Nieding & Schneider, 2007), building on current developmental and neuro-psychological findings. These findings suggest that for the development of mathematical skills the understanding of quantities and the understanding of numbers need to be merged. Within the frame of a longitudinal study, it was shown that quantity-related as well as number-related pre-existing knowledge is among the basic skills that are pre-conditional to the acqusition of mathematical competence in elementary school.

    The program is implemented in small groups by kindergarten teachers throughtout Germany in the last year of kindergarten (8 weeks at 3 half-hour sessions). The program was reviewed with regard to its effectiveness by using a longitudinal study with 260 preschoolers (Krajewski, Nieding & Schneider, 2007). Control groups were given either general brainteasers or a different program for the promotion of mathematical skills. A fourth group was not trained at all.

    The results of the study show that the children of the MZZ-Group demonstrate a higher level of quantitative-numeral competence than the control groups, in both short and long term.

    The Development of Spatial Thinking in Children: A Media-Psychological Approach within the Scope of Cognitive Developmental Psychology

    Research initiative project, supported by Technische Universität Berlin

    The central research question of the project is, if children´s spatial cognitive operations can be fostered by linking spatial arrangements to filmic event structures. For this purpose, a measuring method, the image-mask-method, was developed.
    By means of a computer, a concealing black mask is applied as a layer over the video screen image, leaving a small square opening. Through the cut-out, the underlying video image can still be seen. The cut-out can be moved by the subjects via joystick.
    Results show that with narrative films, already 5-year-old children align their movements of the mask more strongly to the event structure than to spatial complexity. Therefore, film editing is more important than Mise an Scène (image composition) for comprehension. Further, evidence could be provided that certain depictions of events in film support spatial coordination of perspectives in preschoolers and that spatial coordination of perspectives can be trained by filmic means.