The junior research group "Multimedia" is part of the research center CATALPA.

Fall back on proven sources and strategies or try out new ways? Which learning strategy leads to the goal or which learning strategy is used by learners is highly individual. In interactive, multimedia learning, this decision plays an important role. The Multimedia Junior Research Group has set itself the goal of better understanding and utilizing these processes.

Goals and research questions

In interactive multimedia learning with modern web-based technologies, learners need to balance their time between (a) processing information from known sources by available strategies and (b) investing time in seeking potential new sources of information and trying new ways to process it. It is the exploration-exploitation dilemma, which is as one of the most fundamental problem of human control of action and learning. For a long time, transferring from laboratory paradigms to real-world task was a hard step to take. While the controlling of this balance had been unobservable in the times of paper-based libraries and learning, online-based learning allows to (1) experimentally manipulate candidate factors influencing the balance between exploration and exploitation in natural settings that nevertheless allow for high levels of experimental control and to (2) track learning processes and outcomes. This research group aims to scrutinize how learners control the exploration-exploitation dilemma. It further aims to provide the bases for adaptive support of learners by predicting which events alter their processing strategies.

  • PD Dr. Fang Zhao

  • April 2021 through June 2024

  • 2024


    • Zhao, F., & Gaschler, R. (2024). Sending motivational emails in text–picture personalised form can be feasible in e-learning: An asynchronous course case. Open Learning, 1–15.

    Phd and Habilitation Thesis

    Talks and Poster Presentations

    • Wehrhahn, F., Ding, Y., Gaschler, R., Zhao, F., & Horbach, A. (2024, June 26–28). Argumentative essay writing practice with automated feedback and highlighting. [Poster Presentation]. EARLI SIG WRITING 2024 – ways2write, Université Paris Nanterre, France.


    Talks and Poster Presentations

    • Wehrhahn, F., Gaschler, R., & Zhao, F. (2023, June 14–16). Balancing autonomy and guidance in online learning: suggesting a sequence of recorded video lectures [Poster Presentation]. ESPLAT 2023 – Learning and Teaching Psychology in a Changing World, Umeå Universitet, Sweden.
    • Yaban Yalçın, E. H., Wehrhahn, F., Reinhardt, C., & Gaschler, R. (2023, June 14–16). Having a backup plan as a facilitator or inhibitor to success in online education. [Paper Presentation]. ESPLAT 2023 – Learning and Teaching Psychology in a Changing World, Umeå Universitet, Sweden.



    • Aufschnaiter, S., Zhao, F., Gaschler, R., Kiesel, A., & Thomaschke, R. (2022). Investigating time-based expectancy beyond binary timing scenarios: Evidence from a paradigm employing three predictive pre-target intervals. Psychological Research, 86(6), 2007–2020.
    • Leh, A., Langhanns, C., Zhao, F., Gaschler, R., & Müller, H. (2022). Muscle activity in explicit and implicit sequence learning: Exploring additional measures of learning and certainty via tensor decomposition. Acta Psychologica, 226, 103587.
    • Zhao, F., & Gaschler, R. (2022). Graph schema and best graph type to compare discrete groups: Bar, line, and pie. Frontiers in Psychology.
    • Zhao, F., Gaschler, R., Schnotz, W., & Wagner, I. (2022). Lower grade students tend to give up early in multimedia learning. European Journal of Psychology of Education.
    • Zhao, F., Schützler, L., Christ, O., & Gaschler, R. (2022). Learning statistics with interactive data graphs using r shiny: Generally preferred, but not generally advantageous. Teaching Statistics.

    Talks and Poster Presentations

    • Wehrhahn, F., Zhao, F., Gaschler, R., & Haake, J. M. (2022a, March). Can interactive information pictures enhance learning? [Poster Presentation]. Conference name: TeaP 2022 – tagung experimentell arbeitender psycholog:innen; conference of experimental psychologists.
    • Wehrhahn, F., Zhao, F., Gaschler, R., & Haake, J. M. (2022b, August 29–31). Can interactive decorative pictures enhance learning compared to informative and static pictures? [Poster Presentation]. EARLI SIG 2 Conference 2022 – Text and Graphics Comprehension in a Digital World: Potential and Challenges, IPN - Leipniz Institute for Science and Mathematics Education, Germany.



    Web Documents

    • Zhao, F., Schäfer, L. O., van Rijn, L., & Wöhrle, J. (2021). Snails on the chase: How to cope with anxiety in academic career. Elephant in the Lab.



    • Zhao, F., Gaschler, R., Kneschke, A., Radler, S., Duttine, C., & Haider, H. (2020). Origami folding: Taxing resources necessary for the acquisition of sequential skills. PLoS One, 15(10), e0240226. pone.0240226
    • Zhao, F., Gaschler, R., Nöhring, O., Röttger, E., & Haider, H. (2020). Sequential modulation of across-task congruency in the serial reaction time task. Acta Psychologica, 205(103043).
    • Zhao, F., Gaschler, R., Schnotz, W., & Wagner, I. (2020). Regulating distance to the screen while engaging in difficult tasks. Frontline Learning Research, 8(6), 59–76.
    • Zhao, F., Schnotz, W., Wagner, I., & Gaschler, R. (2020). Texts and pictures serve different functions in conjoint mental model construction and adaptation. Memory & Cognition, 48(1), 69–82.