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"ACM SIGCHI General Interest Announcements (Mailing List)" <[log in to unmask]>
William Hudson <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 6 Aug 2003 21:30:36 +0100
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With apologies for multiple postings.

           Creation of an American-German Research Network
            in the Field of Technology-Supported Education

          A Series of Two Workshops and Preparatory Activities

CLARIFICATIONS w.r.t. the first version of the CALL FOR PARTICIPATION, shown below. If you have not read the first version, please read it first, then read the clarifications.

* The current call for participation is meant to attract participants
   working in research institutions located in the United States. German
   applicants should  respond to the German call for applications. They could
   also contact the German organizers listed below.
* We invite applications from teams, as detailed below.
   The preferred team constitutes of two or three members from the same
   research institute or (at the very least) the same location. The rationale
   for this requirement is that if team members come from the same institute
   or at least work in close proximity, it is much easier for the more senior
   members of the teams to function as a mentor, not just for the more junior
   members in their own team but also for the more junior members of teams
   that visit in order to develop collaborative research ideas or conduct
   collaborative research. Each team should have members of at least two
   different levels of seniority (see below).
* All expenses related specifically to the two workshops will be covered.
   Currently there is no budget to cover expenses related to other activities
   to establish a research network.

                  CALL FOR PARTICIPATION - first version


* Two NSF/DFG-sponsored workshops are being organized to foster research
   collaboration between researchers in the field of technology-supported
   education in the United States and Germany.
* Applications are due August 15.
* Only teams can apply consisting of two or three researchers of at least
   two different levels of seniority (see below).
* Participants will be selected based on scientific standing as well as
   their self-described needs for research collaboration.
* First workshop: University of Tübingen, Germany, Nov. 14-16.
* All expenses related to the workshops will be covered.


A series of two workshops will bring together researchers in technology-supported education from Germany and the United States, with the aim of fostering collaboration between researchers in the two countries. The first workshop will be held at the University of Tübingen, Germany and the other at Stanford University, US. Each workshop will involve about 40 participants, half from each country, and distributed at the early (Ph.D. students), intermediate (postdocs, assistant professors), and senior career levels. The workshops will be sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and its German counterpart, the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG).

We invite applications to participate in the series of workshops and related preparatory activities. All applications must involve a group of two or three researchers at two or more seniority levels: early, intermediate, and senior, as detailed above. Participants will be selected not only on the basis of their scientific standing, but also on how they formulate specific needs for research partnerships. All expenses related to the workshops will be covered.


The overall goals of the workshops are:

1) to understand strengths of alternative research strategies employed
    within and across countries
2) to create a sustainable network of researchers in technology-supported
    education, and
3) to develop a joint agenda of research questions to be pursued in
    parallel multi-year research projects; discussions about these projects
    start during the workshops and later on lead to proposals for funding
    on both the American and the German side.

During the workshops and preparatory activities, researchers at the early and intermediate stages of their careers from both countries will have the opportunity to interact with their counterparts as well as with senior researchers, with a specific focus on creating collaborative research projects across national boundaries and theoretical perspectives. In addition, senior researchers from the US and Germany will interact with each other, comparing and reciprocally challenging different research strategies, with the aim of strengthening theory, methods, and evidence for future research to have even greater international significance.

The workshops are intended to yield a joint understanding and richer characterization of the strengths and weaknesses of alternative theoretical perspectives, empirical methods, and applied goals. They will produce a joint agenda of research questions and projects that capitalize on the complementary strengths of alternative approaches and result in new knowledge dissemination. The network of research collaborations and contacts, within and across countries, is expected to last considerably beyond the time frame of the workshop series.


In Germany as in the United States, there is a critical mass of research in technology-supported education. Several recent programs by the DFG provide funding for such research. In 2000, a research initiative entitled "Net-based knowledge communication in groups" was established. It currently comprises 15 research projects distributed across Germany, with contributions from cognitive science, social psychology, education, educational psychology, computer science, and psycholinguistics. For more information, see In addition, DFG sponsors a virtual Ph.D. program entitled "Knowledge Acquisition and Knowledge Exchange with New Media". In this program the influence of information and communication technologies on learning processes is investigated by high-profile students of psychology from various research institutions in Germany. For more information, see

Several activities aimed at fostering collaboration between German and American researchers have already taken place prior to the current announcement, including two workshops for early career researchers in technology-supported education. These activities, which were supported by NSF and DFG and were considered to be successful by organizers and participants alike, gave rise to the idea of sustainable efforts on an institutionalized level.

As became clear during the workshops mentioned above, there is considerable variation in the research strategies used by different researchers and institutions. Importantly, the variability across countries appears to be greater than that within countries. Therefore, a combined endeavor of German and American researchers is highly likely to provide fertile ground for the development of new ideas, educational innovations, and research results.

More specifically, two broad styles of research can be distinguished, which might be labeled "artifact-centered research" and "theory-centered research." This description suggests a stronger contrast than is apparent in many research projects, which often combine aspects of both. Nonetheless, it is instructive to compare the two approaches. Artifact-centered research (often called "design research") in technology-supported education is focused on designing, developing, implementing, and testing an educational innovation involving technological artifacts, supporting written materials, and desired teaching practices (Barab & Kirshner, 2001; Carroll & Kellog, 1989; Cobb, Stephen, McClain, & Gravemeijer, 2001; Edelson, Gordin, & Pea, 1999; Greeno, 1998; Pea et al, 1999). The strategy is closely coupled to educational practice and is based on an ongoing interaction between researchers and practitioners (teachers and students). The contributions of practitioners guide the improvement of the innovation over time. Artifact-centered research is often based on constructivist approaches to learning.

In contrast to artifact-centered research, theory-centered research has the immediate goal of advancing theories about innovations, thereby laying a foundation for future innovations. Theory-centered researchers focus on discovering causal explanations or mechanisms that explain learning processes and the effects of instructional changes on learning. How does a given set of instructional or technological factors play a functional, or dysfunctional, role in achieving learning outcomes? Greater emphasis is placed on rigorous tests of theoretical hypotheses that employ experimental procedures with control of variables and parameters as a key characteristic. Experimental studies are usually carried out in a controlled laboratory setting and less often in realistic field setting. Since theory-centered research usually takes more time to get unequivocal results, it often addresses questions of a more general nature, questions that do not focus on a specific innovation, but that address a whole class of innovations.

In sum, theory-centered researchers and artifact-centered researchers share a common goal, and both utilize and advance theory, but emphasize different means to achieve this goal. A central hypothesis of the two workshops is that we need research projects that combine these approaches and, more generally, a research community that embraces them. Further, a project or community that does so is more likely to come up with novel innovations and theoretical advances than a project or community focused on either perspective alone.


The goals for the first workshop to be held in Tübingen will be
* to outline a plan for the establishment of a research network
* to jointly discuss the tension between different research strategies
* to discuss means of combining strategies effectively, and
* to discuss and to build special interest groups. Candidate topics
   include, but are not limited to:
   - Learning with and from external representations: investigating how
     the use of external representations guides and shapes learning
     processes; testing how active construction of external representations
     promotes understanding.
   - Sharing and constructing knowledge in computer-mediated communication:
     fostering the coordination and collaboration of learners with
     complementary knowledge; finding out how learners, and how artifacts
     represent shared knowledge of group members; investigating how
     technology influences common ground and meta-knowledge about the
     knowledge of other group members.
   - Technology-supported learning as an inquiry activity: finding a
     balance between learner autonomy and guidance during inquiry learning;
     developing cooperation scripts to foster inquiry activities.
   - Technology support for meta-cognitive or reflective learning processes:
     investigating how technology can best support self-explanation,
     self-assessment, comprehension monitoring, help seeking, etc.
   - "Cutting-edge technologies" and their effect on enhancing learning:
     investigating what types of learning can be improved by the use of
     handheld computers; specifying useful domains for immersive virtual
     environments and augmented reality scenarios; investigating the
     effectiveness and best use of machine-generated tutorial dialog.

Participants will be encouraged to visit partner sites between the two workshops and in the months after the second workshop.

The goals for the second workshop to be held at Stanford University will be
* to develop a joint research agenda covering artifact-centered and
   theory-centered research strategies, both for special interest groups, and
   across topics
* to prepare publications within special interest groups, and
* to discuss future collaborations


Aug 15:    Deadline for applications
Sept 5:    Notification of acceptance
Sept 19:   Confirmation of participation

Nov 12-16: First workshop at the University of Tübingen
May, 2004: Second workshop at Stanford University


We seek high-profile participants from each country (Germany and the United States) who have a good reputation within the field of technology-supported education. Prospective participants must apply in groups of two or three persons, in which at least two different seniority levels (senior researchers, intermediates, and early career researchers) are represented. Participants will be selected based upon their openness towards seeking joint solutions that combine and take advantage of alternative research strategies and methods. Moreover, participants should be able to formulate specific needs for international partnerships.

Each group application should include the following information:
* Overview of scientific achievements (one paragraph per applicant), plus
   a list of 5 key publications per applicant.
* Statement of research interests and description of research projects
   (one paragraph per applicant)
* Statement identifying specific needs for collaboration, for example:
     - "We are primarily technologists and would like to collaborate with
       psychologists on the design of experiments to test learning
       hypotheses related to our designs"
     - "Our prior work has involved individual cognition and we would like
       to work with others to explore the role of collaboration."
     - "We work in collaborative learning, but are not domain experts or
       cognitive modelers, but would like to have assistance in these area
       to help better assess and evaluate the affect of our collaborative
       learning instruction"
* Examples of people in Germany that might fit the criteria (see for
   example the web sites listed above).
* A statement indicating which of the prospective participants will visit
   which of the workshops (in Tübingen on Nov 12-16, 2003 and at Stanford
   in May, 2004). The selection criteria will favor teams where all members
   can make all meetings.

Applications should be sent, in .pdf format, to Vincent Aleven, [log in to unmask]


Kenneth R. Koedinger
Human-Computer Interaction Institute
Carnegie Mellon University

Roy Pea
School of Education
Stanford Center for Innovations in Learning
Stanford University

Vincent Aleven
Human-Computer Interaction Institute
Carnegie Mellon University


Friedrich Hesse
Department for Applied Cognitive Psychology and Media Psychology University of Tübingen

Hans Spada
Department of Psychology Cognition-Emotion-Communication University of Freiburg

Rainer Bromme
Department of Psychology
University of Münster

Jürgen Buder
Department for Applied Cognitive Psychology and Media Psychology University of Tübingen


For more information, please contact Vincent Aleven, [log in to unmask]