Activity Research

Research group “Activity Research”


The “Activity Research” group  is investigating learning processes at a personal and collective level from a developmental perspective based on interactional, socio-cultural and activity-theoretical (CHAT) research.  Human activity acts as the relevant ‘unit of analysis’ for the group’s research work.

The activity-theoretical lens orients the scientific attention towards the multiple ways in which communities evolve across cultural, institutional and societal boundaries and in which human practices shape and are shaped by socio-digital contexts. A specific regard is oriented to a person’s potential to act in specific contexts and the process to augment this potential through collaborative and interactive technologies.

At a micro-level, interpersonal interactions within activity systems across work, school, family or everyday life are analysed by relying upon talk-in-interaction, embodied interaction, multimodality and multi-mediality.

‘Acting with technology’ is a core focus of the group’s investigations and points to issues such as the use of interactive devices in everyday life, the co-construction of knowledge in educational and working contexts through ICT, the dynamics of innovation within organisations and communities, the construction of mutual understanding as trust and trustworthiness of systems in interaction.

Key research areas are :

  • Situated practices of living, working and participating in socio-digital activity systems
  • Interactions within multi-device environments and through increasingly smart technologies
  • Impacts of social media and digital technologies on learning, development and community building.
  • New forms of cultural expression and technology-mediated participation.

The group is studying interactive processes “in the wild” through visual ethnography and comprehensive process-tracking research methods, e.g. data-driven interaction analysis or tool-bound activity research. Developmental studies use also formative interventions as for example the Change Laboratory method.

The “Activity research” group works in close collaboration with educational institutions, ONGs, industrial and municipal partners.



Researchers : Charles Max, Nathalie Hack (SnT), Gilberto Fernandes (SnT)

PhD students : Florian Feltes (SnT), Delia Wirtz (external)