Bavarian Cultural Prize for Dr. Eva Oesterlen

Dr. Eva Oesterlen was awarded this year's Bavarian Cultural Prize for her doctoral thesis in the field of Developmental and Educational Psychology at the KU. This prize is awarded by Bayernwerk AG together with the Bavarian State Ministry of Science and the Arts. The prize is awarded to artists in Bavaria for their significant artistic work, as well as to graduates and doctoral candidates from Bavarian universities, universities of applied sciences and state art colleges. The Bavarian State Ministry of Science and the Arts also awards a special prize.

The prizewinning doctoral thesis compiled by Dr. Eva Oesterlen deals with a methodology for measuring working memory. Weaknesses in reading, writing and arithmetic or in learning in general are related to deficits in the working memory. This is the part of the human memory that is responsible for temporary storage and processing of information. The goal of Eva Oesterlen's thesis is to optimize the methodology for the assessment of working memory in children, adolescents and adults. Eva Oesterlen wrote her thesis in the subject of Developmental and Educational Psychology. She was supervised by Professor Katja Seitz-Stein. Until now, there has been no method for measuring working memory in the German-speaking world that can also be used in the group and that can thus be applied in an economical way. The doctor of psychology conceived such a procedure in the form of an application for tablet PCs. In the course of studies conducted with about 1400 children, adolescents and adults, she tested various aspects of the new method. In addition to the feasibility and validity of the application in different age groups, she conducted several experiments to investigate age-specific characteristics associated with the use of tablets and the associated changes in task requirements.

Among other things, these studies revealed that elementary school children achieve lower scores in the visuomotor response format of the tablet test than in the verbal response format of classical individual tests. Adults, on the other hand, show no differences in performance. In contrast, the examination situation as such, i.e., whether individuals or groups work together, makes no difference to the recorded working memory performance. The work of Eva Oesterlen has provided the German-speaking world with a comprehensive standardized working memory instrument that can be used flexibly and economically over a wide age range.

Further information on the Bavarian Cultural Prize can be found on the website of Bayernwerk.