PLATO has been granted funding from the initiative fund of the Rhine-Main Universities (RMU). The RMU funding will be used to consolidate pilot studies and prepare a cross-university application to solidify PLATO collaboration structures (for more information, see RMU-Website).


Joint Projects

Joint Project with Linguists (Prof. Dr. Walter Bisang, Prof. Dr. Olga Zlatkin-Troitschanskaia): "Developing an initial empirical framework for PLATO, as a interdisciplinary program aimed at investigating the phenomena of negative learning in the digital Age"

The project aims to further develop and establish a holistic explanatory model as an empirical framework for studying positive and negative learning in the Age of Information. The goal for the modeling is to create research design blueprints that can be integrated to form a holistic, multilayered, multiscaled, environment- and value-sensitive model of learning and educational assessment by means of interdisciplinary cooperation and advanced computational possibilities.Once the initial target research designs, approaches, and computational models for positive learning have been developed – for example, linking an information source considered by a student to (1) numerical-mathematical skills, (2) linguistic structures and linguistic skills, (3) the student’s cognitive and neural processes, (4) the student’s current or changing social and technological learning environment, and (5) the student’s learning outcomes and longitudinal development – additional areas of influence could be included in the analyses.


Joint Project with Computer Linguists (Prof. Dr. Alexander Mehler, Prof. Dr. Olga Zlatkin-Troitschanskaia): “Integrating Computational Linguistic Analysis of Multilingual Learning Data and Educational Measurement Approaches to Explore Student Learning in Higher Education”


Joint Project with Mathematical Modeling (Prof. Dr. Gabiel Wittum, Prof. Dr. Olga Zlatkin-Troitschanskaia): “A Concept for Quantitative Comparison of Mathematical and Natural Language and the Effect on Learning”


Joint Project with Media Experts (Prof. Dr. Marcus Mauer, Prof. Dr. Christian Schemer, Prof. Dr. Olga Zlatkin-Troitschanskaia): “Positive and negative media effects on university students’ learning”

Research in communication science highlights positive as well as negative effects of news and social media on learning but focuses predominantly on the largely unintended knowledge acquisition of the overall population. Research in educational science deals with students’ knowledge acquisition but is largely limited to formal learning such as in university courses. In this paper, we report findings of a pilot study combining both approaches by dealing with mass and social media effects on university students’ learning. While this study reveals several effects, their influences and causality remain largely unclear. Therefore, we propose a research program to explain positive and negative media effects on students learning in higher education in a more detailed fashion. In this program, we aim to combine various research methods like content analyses, panel surveys, mobile experience samplings, and experiments to uncover the mechanisms behind the emergence of positive and negative effects on learning.


Joint Project with Educational Psychologists (Prof. James Pellegrino, Prof. Richard J. Shavelson, Prof. Sam Wineburg, Prof. Olga Zlatkin-Troitschanskaia): “Developing and Validating of a Newly Developed Performance Assessment and Scoring Rubrics for Measuring Students’ Critical Thinking and Online Reasoning in Higher Education“

Following recent societal developments, policy-makers and educators have called for students to develop 21stcentury skills such as critical thinking and online reasoning. There is a corresponding demand for suitable assessments of these skills (NRC, 2011), which have typically been assessed using students’ self-reports or multiple-choice tests. An alternative innovative approach is to use criterion-sampled measures, such as performance assessments of learning, which use criterion-driven tasks drawn from real-world decision-making and judgment situations that students face within and across academic and professional domains. The tasks employ real-life scenarios and require students to take communicative action to solve a specific problem using evidence and justify their decision. The evidence to be judged in such tasks, specifically critical thinking and online reasoning assessments, includes several (only partly credible) sources of information offline and online with varying degrees of trustworthiness and relevance of content that should be considered and critically analyzed by the student while solving the case scenario (Shavelson et al. 2015, 2018a,b). Initial attempts to adapt performance tasks from the U.S. for Germany and validate them revealed challenges, e.g., in the transfer of constructs and scoring rubrics to the German context (for the CLA+, see Zlatkin-Troitschanskaia et al. 2018). In this project, we developed and validated a performance tasks focused on critically dealing with information and online reasoning, which we validated with the help of undergraduate and graduate students in Germany.