LEAD Research Network

Luzia Leifheit

Research interest

As digital technology keeps on gaining influence in society, the industry, and our personal lives, there is an increasing need for accessible and high-quality computer science education. To advance and improve computer science education, we need to better understand (a) which kinds of cognitive abilities and processes are involved in solving computational tasks and problems and (b) which methods are suitable for teaching computer science in a way that supports these processes and fosters the respective abilities early on in formal education. With my research on computer science education, I aim to provide answers to these two questions.

Abilities and cognitive processes involved in programming and solving computation-related problems are commonly referred to as computational thinking. However, the specific cognitive abilities that underlie computational thinking have not yet been specified. Therefore, I would like to investigate which basic cognitive abilities underlie computational thinking.

I also want to make a contribution to the state of empirical research on methods for computer science education. For this purpose, I am exploring to what extent unplugged game-based teaching methods might be suited for teaching computational thinking concepts. Furthermore, I am developing a computational thinking course for elementary school students to assess its effectiveness for teaching computational abilities and fostering students’ interest and motivation for learning more about computation-related topics.

I am grateful that the LEAD Graduate School provides me with the opportunity to contribute to the research on computer science education in an interdisciplinary setting incorporating computer science, empirical education sciences, and cognitive psychology.


Intersection 2: Educational Neuroscience

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Klaus Ostermann, Prof. Dr. Korbinian Moeller, Prof. Dr. Ulrich Trautwein

Curriculum Vitae

since 10/2017
PhD candidate at the LEAD Graduate School & Research Network

Graduated in Computer Science and Philosophy/Ethics (1st State’s Exam teaching degree) at the University of Tübingen

04/2012 – 09/2017
Teaching assistant and student assistant positions at the Department of Computer Science, the Institute of Education, and the Philosophical Seminar at the University of Tübingen

09/2014 – 01/2015
Teaching internship at Martin-Gerbert-Gymnasium Horb


  • Tsarava, K., Leifheit, L., Moeller, K., & Ninaus, M. "Crabs & Turtles: A Series of Computational Adventures". Winner of the Non-Digital Games group, 6th International Educational Games Competition. ECGBL 2018, 4-5 October, Sophia Antipolis, France.
  • Tsarava, K., Leifheit, L., Moeller, K., & Ninaus, M. "Crabs & Turtles: A Series of Computational Adventures". Overall Joint First Prize, 6th International Educational Games Competition. ECGBL 2018, 4-5 October, Sophia Antipolis, France.


  • Leifheit, L., Jabs, J., Ninaus, M., Moeller, K., & Ostermann, K. (2018). Programming Unplugged: An Evaluation of Game-Based Methods for Teaching Computational Thinking in Primary School, Proceedings of the 12th European Conference on Game Based Learning.