Dr. Fang Zhao

Dr. Fang Zhao Foto: FernUniversität

Dr. Fang Zhao

Junior Research Group Leader "Multimedia", Member of the Executive Board

E-Mail: fang.zhao

Telefon: +49 2331 987-4303

FernUniversität in Hagen
Universitätsstr. 27 - PRG / Buliding 5 / Room 0A105
58097 Hagen

Research Gate

Fang Zhao leads the junior research group "Cognitive Control of Exploration and Exploitation in Interactive Multimedia Learning" at the research cluster D²L² "Digitization, Diversity and Lifelong Learning - Consequences for Higher Education" since April 2021.

She is a cognitive and educational psychologist. She uses eye-tracking to study text-picture integration in multimedia learning. She also interests in how sequences are learned under multitasking, such as temporal sequence and complex sequence in skill acquisition.



"Cognitive control of exploration and exploitation in interactive multimedia learning." ("Multimedia")

Exploration-exploitation dilemma is one of the most fundamental problem of human control of action and learning. This project investigates how learners balance in interactive learning environment 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.

Here you can get more information about the "Multimedia" project

Team Members


  • 2021 - present: Junior Research Group Leader, Research Cluster D²L², FernUniversität in Hagen, Germany
  • 2016 - 2021: Postdoc, FernUniversität in Hagen, Germany
  • 2012 - 2015: Ph.D. University of Koblenz Landau, Germany
  • 2010 - 2012: M.A., Durham University, UK
  • 2006 - 2010: B.A., Henan University, China

Research Interests

  • Multimedia learning: comprehension of texts and graphics, interactive learning with simulation, learning with videos
  • Sequence learning under multitasking: basic sequence, timing sequence, complex hierarchical sequence like Origami folding


Selected Publications

    • (16) Zhao, F. (2021). Interviewer presence can affect learning with interview videos. E-learning & Digital Media. 1-17. https://doi.org/10.1177/2042753021995312
    • (15) Röttger, E., Zhao, F., Gaschler, R., & Haider, H. (2021). Why does dual-tasking hamper implicit sequence learning? Journal of Cognition, 4(1), 1. https://doi.org/10.5334/joc.136
    • (14) Zhao, F., Gaschler, R., Kneschke, A., Radler, S., Gausmann, M., Duttine, C., & Haider, H. (2020). Origami folding: Taxing resources necessary for the acquisition of sequential skills. PLoS ONE, 15 (10): e0240226. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0240226
    • (13) 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. https://doi.org/10.14786/flr.v8i6.663
    • (12) Zhao, F., Gaschler, R., Nöhring, D. O., Röttger, E. & Haider, H. (2020). Sequential modulation of across-task congruency in the serial reaction time task. Acta Psychologica, 205(103043). http://doi.org/10.1016/j.actpsy.2020.103043
    • (11) Zhao, F., Schnotz,W.,Wagner, I. & Gaschler, R. (2020). Eyes on text and pictures – construction and adaptation of mental models. Memory & Cognition, 48(1), 69-82. http://doi.org/10.3758/s13421-019-00962-0
    • (10) Gaschler, R., Zhao, F., Röttger, E., Panzer, S., & Haider, H. (2019). More than hitting the correct key quickly - Spatial variability in touch screen response location under multitasking in the Serial Reaction Time Task. Experimental Psychology, 2019(66), 207-220. http://doi.org/10.1027/1618-3169/a000446
    • (9) Zhao, F., Gaschler, R., Schneider, L., Thomaschke, R., Röttger, E., & Haider, H. (2019). Sequence knowledge on when and what supports dual-tasking. Journal of Cognition, 2(1), 18. http://doi.org/10.5334/joc.76
    • (8) Röttger, E., Haider, H., Zhao, F., & Gaschler, R. (2019). Implicit sequence learning despite multitasking: the role of across-task predictability. Psychological Research, 83(3), 526–543. http://doi.org/10.1007/s00426-017-0920-4
    • (7) Gaschler, R., Kemper, M., Zhao, F., Pumpe, I., Ruderisch, C., Röttger, E., & Haider, H. (2018). Differential effects of cue-based and sequence knowledge-based predictability on multitasking performance. Acta Psychologica, 191(2018), 76-86. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.actpsy.2018.09.004
    • (6) Zhao, F., Gaschler, R., Travi, T., Imgrund, B., Kossack, V., Röttger, E. & Haider, H. (2018). Effects of overlap between consecutive words on speeded typing Inform about representation of serial order within words. Advances in Cognitive Psychology, 14(6), 124-136. http://doi.org/10.5709/acp-0244-6
    • (5) Zhao, F., & Mahrt, N. (2018). Influences of comics expertise and comics types in comics reading. International Journal of Innovation and Research in Educational Sciences, 5(2), 218-224. ISSN: 2349-5219
    • (4) Broeker, L., Kiesel, A., Aufschnaiter, S., Ewolds, H., Gaschler, R., Haider, H., Künzell, S., Raab, M., Röttger, E., Thomaschke, R., & Zhao, F. (2017). Why prediction matters in multitasking and how predictability can improve it. Frontiers in Psychology, 8:2021. http://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.02021
    • (3) Schnotz, W., Wagner, W., Zhao, F., Ullrich, M., Horz, H., McElvany, N., Ohle, A. & Baumert, J. (2017). Development of dynamic usage of strategies for integrating text and picture information in secondary school. In D. Leutner, J. Fleischer, J. Grünkorn & E. Klieme (Ed.), Competence Assessment in Education - Research, Models and Instruments (pp. 303-313). Dordrecht: Springer. http://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-50030-0_18
    • (2) Zhao, F. (2015) Reading strategies in multimedia learning (Doctoral dissertation). OPUS, University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/330754215_Reading_Strategies_in_Multimedia_Learning
    • (1) Zhao, F., Schnotz, W., Wagner, I. & Gaschler, R. (2014). Eye tracking indicators of reading approaches in text-picture comprehension. Frontline Learning Research, 2(4), 46–66. http://doi.org/10.14786/flr.v2i4.98
    • Zhao, F., Gaschler, R., Wagner, I., & Schnotz, W. (Mar 2021). Learning competence on text–picture integration: Learners with low prerequisites tend to give up early. 63rd Conference of Experimental Psychologists (Teap), Ulm, Mar 15-17, 2021.
    • Zhao, F., Gaschler, R. (Aug 2020). Showing the interviewer can affect the learning outcome in educational interview videos. EARLI Sig2 Text and Graphics, Prague, Aug 30- Sep 2, 2020.
    • Zhao, F., Gaschler, R., Veit, K. (Aug 2019). Workshop (1.5h): Teaching and testing with data graphs using R-Shiny. EARLI 2019. Aachen, Aug 12-16, 2019.
    • Zhao, F., Gaschler, R., Röttger, E., Haider, H. (April, 2019). Task integration shown in sequence knowledge-based prediction of across task congruency. 61st Conference of Experimental Psychologists (Teap), London, UK, April 15-17th, 2019.
    • Zhao, F. (Sep 2018) International Teaching Project, University of Jyväskylä Open, Jyväskylä, Finnland, 03-07 Sep, 2018.
    • Zhao, F., Schnotz, W., Wagner, I., & Gaschler, R. (Aug 2018). Students‘ strategic use of texts of pictures for the construction and adaptation of mental models. EARLI Sig 2 Text and Graphics, Freiburg, Aug 27-29th, 2018.
    • Zhao, F., Gaschler, R., Röttger, E., & Haider, H. (May 2018). Sequence knowledge influences across-task congruency. International Meeting of the Psychnomic Society, Amsterdam, Holland, May 10-12, 2018.
    • Zhao, F., Gaschler, R., Risser, L., Bozic, M., zur Kammer, K., Röttger, E. & Haider, H. (Mar 2018). Influence of segmentation of subsequence helps sequence learning in multitasking (pp. 303)? 60th Conference of Experimental Psychologists, Marburg, March 11-14th, 2018.
    • Zhao, F., Gaschler, R., Röttger, E., Haider, H., & Thomaschke, R. (Sep, 2017). Influences of timing in after-action effect. Escop Symposium: Timing in Cognitive Multitasking: Different Perspectives and Approaches: Organized by Fang Zhao & Stefanie Aufschnaiter (pp. 70), Postdam, Sep 3-6, 2017.
    • Zhao, F., Schnotz, W., Wagner, I., & Gaschler, R. (Aug, 2017). Situational Modulation of Multimedia Processing Strategies (pp. 27). 19th European Conference on Eye Movements, Wuppertal, August 20-24, 2017.