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CrossWorlds research published in Scientific Reports

Wirzberger, Schmidt, Georgi, Hardt, Brunnett, & Rey (2019)

A sophisticated example of interdisciplinary research was realized by CrossWorlds alumni Dr. Maria Wirzberger (formerly Psychology of Learning with Digital Media), René Schmidt (Computer Engineering) and Maria Georgi (formerly Computer Graphics and Visualization). Together, they developed a dialog-based memory training with a virtual agent and tested it with a sample of 62 elderly participants between 60 and 80.

Their results were recently published in the renowned Nature journal Scientific Reports and mark a proud milestone in CrossWorlds history. Taken together, the findings indicate a trade-off between performance and individual preferences when designing assistive technology for cognitive improvement.

The article is available via https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-44718-x.


First PhD defence in second group

(from left to right:) Prof. Dr. Peter Ohler, Prof. Dr. Josef Krems, Dr. des. Maria Wirzberger, Prof. Dr. Günter Daniel Rey, Prof. Dr. Georg Jahn

On January 22, the first PhD thesis in the second group was defended successfully by Maria Wirzberger, now employed as postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems in Tübingen. Her thesis on Load-inducing factors in instructional design: Process-related advances in theory and assessment introduces a novel perspective on the interplay of cognitive load facets in learning scenarios. Among its core characteristics, it connects human behavioral experiments with computational cognitive modeling.

After an insightful talk that also involved an outlook to the broader research vision, the dissertation committee raised a variety of interesting questions that resulted in a lively discussion. The excellent result in the end emphasized that Maria had done a great job!



CrossWorlds @60th TeaP in Marburg

Maria Wirzberger during her talk

On the occasion of the 60th Conference of Experimental Psychologists (TeaP), about 700 researchers from cognitive psychology and related fields visited the multifaceted city of Marburg, to present their latest results and discuss their research during a variety of well attended talk sessions, symposia and poster sessions.

The conference particularly facilitates the participation of young academics at the Bachelor, Master and PhD level, who are provided the opportunity to enter the scientific stage and become acquainted with established experts in their research fields.

Shirin Esmaeili Bijarsari presenting her poster

CrossWorlds researcher Maria Wirzberger used the chance to introduce one of the building blocks of her PhD work that has been conducted in cooperation with the chair of Media Informatics. Her results on influences of cognitive load on performance, speech and physiological parameters were well received by a large interested audience and also provided her the opportunity to broaden her professional network.

In line with the conference purpose, CrossWorlds master student Shirin Esmaeili Bijarsari presented findings from her master thesis on effects of guidance fading and color coding in a robot construction task. She also received broad and helpful feedback from various visitors during her poster session and successfully made her first steps within the scientific community.


Academic sponsoring 3.0 @TUBerlin

Maria Wirzberger with her scholar Ronja Joschko ©TU Berlin_PhilippArnoldt

For the seventh time, the TU Berlin awarded Germany scholarships to highly talented and extraordinary committed bachelor and master students across all disciplines of the university. The program constantly expanded over time since the beginning and at the present time comprises a total of 105 scholarships from private sponsors like companies, foundations or private individuals.

At January 31st, this years scholarship award was celebrated by scholars, sponsors, academic staff, family and friends in front of an impressive scenery at the atrium of the TU Berlin.

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Stefan Jähnichen, head of the scholarship selection committee, thanks Maria Wirzberger for her commitment ©TU Berlin_PhilippArnoldt

Sponsoring another fellow student from her former masters degree course “Human Factors”, CrossWorlds researcher Maria Wirzberger was invited to hand over the scholarship certificate to her current scholar Ronja Joschko, who turned out to be a perfect match. Both are looking forward to a year filled with inspiring conversations, lively exchange and a boost in knowledge and experience for each side.

Moreover, our ambitious young researcher had the chance to further enhance her professional network while socializing during the event.


Dissertation project on Social Robotics gains attention

Dr. Andreas Bischof (3rd from right) awarded with the prize for an excellent dissertation on communication. One of the first congratulators was Dr. Eberhard Alles (right), Chancellor of the TU Chemnitz. Copyright: Dresdner Gesprächskreis

During his time as a CrossWorlds PhD-student Andreas Bischof conducted ethnographic research in social robotics labs around the world. The sociologist was eagerly interested to find out, how engineers and computer scientists make robots for everyday worlds ‘social’. His participant observations in human-robot interaction resulted in a study reconstructing the social conditions of social robotics and the practices within this field of research and development.

Bischof’s thesis, which he defended last year, and the following book »Soziale Maschinen bauen« are recently receiving great interest. After being awarded with the dissertation prize of the “Commerzbank AG Niederlassung Chemnitz”, the “Dresdner Gesprächskreis der Wirtschaft und Wissenschaft” awarded one of his annual prizes for outstanding young scientists last thursday.

One week earlier, the national daily newspaper F.A.Z. recognized his study as “realistic and reflected look behind the scenes” of human-robot interaction. The science journalist Dr. Manuela Lenzen wrote: “Bischof rightly raises the question of whether the design of the robots, which are supposed to live with us, can be left to such pragmatism. If tasks are broken down into technically manageable parts, the social aspects of social robotics could become shortened to an optimazation problem.” (F.A.Z., 11/11/2017, PayWall)

Andreas Bischof wrote his dissertation at the Chair of Media Communication, where he was supervised by Prof. Dr. Claudia Fraas. Today, Bischof is a member of the junior research group “Miteinander” at the Faculty of Computer Science.


CrossWorlds research introduced @INFORMATIK2017

From September 25th to 29th, the 47th Annual Meeting of the German Informatics Society (GI) took place in Chemnitz. With various workshops, tutorials and keynotes from outstanding experts like Lora Aroyo, Richard Stallman, Schahram Dustdar and Sören Auer, the conference comprised an important event in the national computer science community and was attended by professionals from both research and industry. In addition, it offered a rich programm for young researchers at the school, student and doctoral level.

Female research power @CSCOG

In the afternoon of the first conference day, CrossWorlds researcher Maria Wirzberger together with fellow researcher Martina Truschzinski from the MaCeLot project introduced benefits and challenges of interdisciplinary cognitive research from perspectives of psychology and computer science. Besides of introducing relevant research from both projects, dealing with effects of delay in a virtual speech-based memory training and a computational model for predicting mental workload in an air traffic controller task, Robin Hirt from the Karlsruhe Service Research Institute introduced his work on classifying Twitter users by machine learning and CrossWorlds master student Shirin Esmaeili Bijarsari presented work from her master thesis on instructional design in a robot construction task. The speakers received valuable questions after the talks and collected interesting ideas in the final discussion session on the topic of interdisciplinarity. Thanks to our involved audience and all presenters for a great workshop!

Comfortable “in action”

A further main topic of CrossWorlds aims to understand how interactive devices like tabletops and tangibles work for users in real-life environments. So CrossWorlds researchers Ingmar Rothe, Benedikt Etzold and Jan-Philipp Stein grabbed the chance to present and discuss methods for conducting studies “in-the-wild” around the “Comfortable”. In order to enrich the workshop with sustained impressions, they spent the afternoon session in the Chemnitz Museum of Industry itself with “hands on” the interfaces and their own approaches. We would like to say “thank you!” to the joining researchers Andreas Bischof, Susen Döbelt and Josefine Halama, Andreas Fritsch, Andreas Mladenow and all attending guests for making the whole friday session a great experience and great fun!


European cognitive psychologists hosted in Potsdam

Nations present at the conference

On behalf of the 20th Conference of the European Society for Cognitive Psychology, from September 3rd to 6th nearly 800 researchers from Europe and beyond, working on various cognition-related research questions, vistited Potsdam. The young university – founded just in 1991 – located in the German city with the highest amounts of researchers and castles per resident, hosted the celebratory occasion and prepared a rich program filled with outstanding workshops, keynotes, talks and posters.

Motivated by the local research and teaching focus, embodied cognition comprised a topic of special interest during the conference, represented by talks from experts like Friedemann Pulvermüller, Arthur Glenberg, Martin Fischer or Yann Coello. In addition, the schedule included various talk sessions and symposia on issues related to multitasking, mainly resulting from a current joint priority program that spans several German universities.

Maria Wirzberger presenting her poster

CrossWorlds researcher Maria Wirzberger had the opportunity to introduce her findings on influences of cognitive load on learning performance, speech and physiological parameters in a dual-task setting during one of the incredibly organized and well-attended poster sessions and received really encouraging feedback on her project. The presented approach resulted from ambitious collaborative work with fellow researcher Robert Herms from the chair of Media Informatics.

Besides of getting valuable scientific input and sucessfully improving her professional network across several European countries, our young researcher was truly impressed by the unique flair of the amazing conference location!


Visiting “The Big Smoke”: CrossWorlds @CogSci2017 in London

An amazing view on the city of London and Queen’s House in front of the Royal Greenwich Observatory in Greenwich Park

Being hosted in Europe by now and then, the 39th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society took place in the impressive city of London. From July 26th to 29th, about 1100 researchers from various cognition-related areas had the opportunity to attend outstanding keynotes and discuss their research during the well-attended talk and poster sessions. Related to this year’s conference theme on computational foundations of cognition, on July 26th the annual ACT-R workshop was held at the UCL and offerend remarkable insights into currently ongoing scientific developments within the related community.

CrossWorlds researcher Maria Wirzberger participated in both the conference and the workshop and presented her poster on “Modeling cognitive load effects in an interrupted learning task: An ACT-R approach” during the final poster session. Moreover, she co-authored a paper presented by fellow researcher Martina Truschzinski from the MaCeLot project, introducing a dynamic process model for predicting workload in an air traffic controller task. Besides getting a variety of helpful comments on their respective research projects, both researchers were inspired by the high quality of the presented innovations, broadened their existing networks and made new friends. They even had the chance to explore some hidden treasures of the city and taste the local cuisine!


Call for participants in virtual memory training

Do requirements on digital learning facilities change with increasing age?

To address this question, an interdisciplinary group of CrossWorlds researchers developed a memory training framework that features a virtual agent and operates on speech-based interaction. The fruitful collaboration between Human Factors graduate Maria Wirzberger, computer scientist René Schmidt, and Maria Barlag, holding a master’s degree in “Intelligent Media and Virtual Reality”, provides a bright example of elaborated research emerging from the unique concept of the Research Training Group.

During the following weeks, the researchers will test their prototype and thus look for adult participants with native German language skills across all age groups. All colleagues, students, family members, friends and acquaintances are invited to join! Details regarding time, location and contact are provided on the flyer.


CrossWorlds contribution to TeaP 2017 in Dresden

Maria Wirzberger introducing her research

Not far away from Chemnitz, the 59th conference of experimental psychologists (TeaP) took place from March 26th to 29th in the beautiful city of Dresden. Apart from a broad variety of talks and symposia from the fields of basic and applied experimental psychology, the conference hosted three exciting and insightful keynotes from the internationally renowned researchers Klaus Oberauer, Tania Singer and Patrick Haggard.

In the afternoon of the first conference day, CrossWorlds researcher Maria Wirzberger participated in a symposium on cognition and emotion in human-machine interaction, organized by colleagues from the chair of cognitive psychology and cognitive ergonomics at TU Berlin. In the well-attended session, she introduced a study on interrupting features of hyperlinks in multimedia learning. The session also featured a talk from her colleague Sascha Schneider from the affiliated chair of E-Learning and New Media (TU Chemnitz) about the moderating role of arousal on the seductive detail effect. Both researchers received beneficial feedback on their work in the vivid discussions afterwards.

At the final conference day, CrossWorlds researcher Jan-Philipp Stein, accompanied by master’s student Xiaomeng Lu, gave a talk on “Connecting stereotypes among German and Chinese students to their perceptions of native speaking media”. Their work was well-received by the large audience and inspired a fruitful discussion on the political implications of this fascinating topic of social psychology.

In addition, the final conference day covered a talk session on teaching and instruction, chaired by CrossWorlds member Maria Wirzberger, including further talks from her colleagues of the chair of E-Learning and New Media: Maik Beege introduced his research on the influence of age coherence between pedagogical agents and verbal information on learning and cognitive load and Maria Mikheeva presented a study on the politeness effect in online learning materials for higher mathematics.

Taken together, the days spent in Dresden proved of high value for our researchers, due to various opportunities to strengthen existing networks, establish new contacts, and gain insights into fascinating new developments within the field of cognition research!