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Faculty for Biology, Chemistry and Earth Sciences

Department of Biology Education - Prof. Dr. Franz X. Bogner

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Pöhnl, S: Lernen mit Schülervorstellungen unter Berücksichtigung der Cognitive Load Theorie. - Multimediale Lerneinheiten zur gentechnischen Produktion von Insulin, (2012)
Genetic engineering methods still cause controversial discussions within our society although some methods such as genetically produced insulin are already established within the industrial production of medicaments. Therefore, clarification and imparting of knowledge pose an important challenge in a classroom. For example, the new G8 syllabus for 9th graders college preparatory school (‘Gymnasium’) specifically addresses this issue, starting from elementary molecular processes in building up knowledge in order to serve as prerequisite for further understanding of genetic engineering methods. Within this context, a large number of alternative conceptions (AC) exists about the complex topics genetics and genetic engineering. Detecting and gradually changing those AC towards scientific conceptions was the specific issue of many studies about conceptual change (CC). However, although the limited working memory capacity is well-researched, studies considering cognitive load (CL, measured as mental effort (ME)) are rare. For this reason, we examine learning with AC and the corresponding CL. The treating of AC was included in multimedia learning units (computer- and textbook-based). The principles of multimedia learning (Mayer, 2005) served as guideline for the development of the design. We focussed on the effects of a state within the CC process, where AC were activated without encouraging students to further process the AC, on the number of scientific conceptions learned and on the ME invested. In addition, the efficiency (combined from learning success and ME invested) of the computer-based learning unit was analysed with a specific focus on possible gender differences. The involvement of AC resulted in a higher ME without providing a considerable long-term learning success. Especially experts (high prior knowledge) seemed to be affected by the negative effects which was expected from literature. The experts’ efficiency showed a poor cost-benefit-result. Results from study C indicate that adequate instructional design of the Multimedia learning unit fostered learning for young women. The study as a whole contributes to the clarification of the CC process and the influencing factor ME or CL. The results of study A and B clearly indicate the necessity of a reflected and conscious handling of AC within an instruction process. Additionally, it is very important to consider CL while learning with AC. The study contributes also to the still discussed topic ‘learning with computer and gender influence’. Fostering young women’s learning success through appropriate multimedia design can be assessed as positive for the application within instruction. However, reaching high efficiency for young women and young men clearly needs further research.
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