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Early Career Researchers

Portrait Tjard de Vries; Bildrechte: Katholische Hochschule Freiburg

Tjard de Vries, M.A., Catholic University of Applied Sciences Freiburg

Identity work of oder adults in a digitalized world

Supervision: Prof.in Dr. Ines Himmelsbach, Catholic University of Applied Sciences Freiburg, and Prof. Dr. Hans-Werner Wahl, Network Aging Research (NAR), Heidelberg University

In times of a digitalized world, the engagement with digital technologies and media opens up potentials and challenges for individual identity concepts for all ages. In this context, the dissertation project takes up theoretical and conceptual approaches to ‚identity work‘ (Keupp, et al. 1997 and 2012) and contextu-alizes them within media-specific learning processes and environments. The dissertation investigates how identity work is narratively constructed by older adults who participate in the digital educational approaches within the larger project to become so-called technology companions.

The doctoral thesis is based on a qualitative longitudinal design and ties in with discourses of educational biography research. Biographical Interviews are conducted with the older adults at two time points. In the evaluation, narratives of individual identity work will be reconstructed and individual changes herein will be traced. The Reconstruction of Narrative Identity by Lucius-Hoene and Deppermann (2004) will be applied for this purpose.


Keupp, H. (1997). Diskursarena Identität - Lernprozesse in der Identitätsforschung. In H. Keupp, H. & Höfer, R. (Hrsg.), Identitätsarbeit heute: Klassische und aktuelle Perspektiven der Identitätsforschung (S. 11–39). Suhrkamp.

Keupp, H. (2012). Identität und Individualisierung: Riskante Chancen zwischen Selbstsorge und Zonen der Verwundbarkeit - sozialpsychologische Perspektiven. In H. G. Petzold (Hrsg.), Identität. Ein Kernthema moderner Psychotherapie - interdisziplinäre Perspektiven (S. 77–105). 1. Auflage. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.

Lucius-Hoene, G. & Deppermann, A. (2004). Rekonstruktion narrativer Identität. Ein Arbeitsbuch zur Analyse narrativer Interviews. 2. Auflage. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.

Portrait Linda Göbl; Bildrechte: Katholische Hochschule Freiburg

Linda Göbl, M.Sc., Catholic University of Applied Sciences Freiburg

Digital and health literacy in older adults

Prospective Supervision: Prof. Dr. Hans-Werner Wahl, Network Aging Research, Heidelberg University, and Prof. Dr. Clemens Becker, Lead of Unit Digital Geriatrics, Heidelberg University Hospital

Digitalisation permeates society in almost all areas of life. Hence, active participation in the digital transformation is a key factor for social inclusion. Digital competences were identified by the EU as one of eight key competences for lifelong learning, whereby older adults show lower digital literacy in social comparison (European Parliament, 2016; Bidt, 2022). Besides, health literacy is similarly important in this target group which is particularly affected by multimorbidity and chronic illness. In this context, health literacy is fundamental to enabling preventive action and to strengthening self-management and patient empowerment (Melchiorre et al., 2021).

The cumulative PhD project aims to identify the current state of digital competences as well as general and digital health competences of older adults. Additional aims are to reveal associations between these concepts and to investigate the influence of factors facilitating or hindering the increase of health literacy. This will be carried out by a quantitative research design addressing older technology companions, older technology novices and older health ambassadors. For this purpose, the instruments used will be tested for their validity in the specific target groups and, if necessary, adapted to this population.


Bidt (2022). Bidt-SZ-Digitalbarometer. Abgerufen von https://www.bidt.digital/meldung-digitalbarometer/

Europäisches Parlament/Europäischer Rat (2006). Lebensbegleitendes Lernen–Schlüsselkompetenzen. In: Amtsblatt des Europäischen Parlaments (L 394), 10-18.

Melchiorre, M. G., Lamura, G., Barbabella, F., & ICARE4EU Consortium (2018). eHealth for people with multimorbidity: Results from the ICARE4EU project and insights from the "10 e's" by Gunther Eysenbach. PloS one, 13(11).


Portrait Christina Klank; Bildrechte: Katholische Hochschule Freiburg

Christina Klank, M.A., Catholic University of Applied Sciences Freiburg


A qualitative study focusing on older adults (not?) learning to use technology

Supervision: Prof. Dr. Bernhard Schmidt-Hertha, Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, and Prof. Dr. Ines Himmelsbach, Catholic University of Applied Sciences Freiburg

This project aims to explore the challenges that older adults face when learning how to use technology. Following Alheit and Dausien (2010), learning takes place “life-wide“ and “life-long“ (S. 713-734) which means that learning can occur everywhere and at any time. However, in some cases older adults refuse to interact or engage with technology. This study focusses on such causes which can be characterized as individually variable. A strong influence on current learning skills and situations are biographical learning experiences that were collected over the life course (Schmidt-Hertha, 2014).

This thesis is based on a qualitative and reconstructive design. Following Schuetze (1983), biographical narrative interviews are conducted to analyze why some older adults do not (want to) learn how to use technology or ICT in particular. The following research questions will be addressed: (1) to identify reasons why older adults do not want to or are not able to learn how to use technological devices; (2) what patterns can be found when analyzing the influence of past learning experiences; and (3) how technology learning for older adults can be defined. The collected data will be analyzed with the “Reconstruction of Narrative Identity” method by Lucius-Hoene and Deppermann (2004).


Alheit, P. & Dausien, B. (2010). Bildungsprozesse über die Lebensspanne: Zur Politik und Theorie lebenslangen Lernens. In R. Tippelt & B. Schmidt. Handbuch Bildungsforschung. 3., durchgesehene Auflage. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. S. 713-735.

Lucius-Hoene, G. & Deppermann, A. (2002). Rekonstruktion narrativer Identität: Ein Arbeitsbuch zur Analyse narrativer Interviews. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.

Schmidt-Hertha, B. (2014). Kompetenzerwerb und Lernen im Alter(1. Aufl.). Studientexte für Erwachsenenbildung. Bertelsmann.

Schütze, F. (1983). Biographieforschung und narratives Interview. In: Neue Praxis. Kritische Zeitschrift für Sozialarbeit und Sozialpädagogik. 13 (3), S. 283–293.

Image sources: ZAWiW Ulm: Elvira Eberhard - Katholische Hochschule Freiburg.

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