Thursday, July 14, 2011

Maximizing Constructivist Learning from Multimedia Communications by Minimizing Cognitive Load

Mayer, E.R., Moreno, R., Boire, M., & Vagge, S. (1999). Maximizing constructivist learning from multimedia communications by minimizing cognitive load. Journal of Educational Psychology, 91(4), 638-643.

The purpose of the current study was to examine theory-based design principles for promoting learning in multimedia environments. According to Mayer’s theory of multimedia learning, three components are at play during multimedia learning: (a) dual coding, which is the processing of verbal and visual materials by different systems, (b) limited capacity, in which each system is limited in the amount of information that can be simultaneously stored or processed and (c) generative learning, in which meaningful learning occurs when coherent connections are made by selecting relevant information. Guided by this model, the authors hypothesize that working memory (WM) load is the major impediment to learning.

Mayer et al presented information to 3 groups of adult participants in one of 3 ways: (1) concurrent, in which the animation and the narration were presented at the same time, (2) successive large bites, in which the entire animation was presented followed by the entire narration, or vice versa, and (3) successive small bites, in which short, equal length segments of animation were presented followed by the corresponding ‘bite’ of narration, or vice versa. Results revealed significantly better performance on all outcome measures for the concurrent group compared to the successive large bites group. However, the successive small bites group showed no statistical difference from the concurrent group and did significantly better than the successive large bites group on several measures.

Mayer et. al’s research may provide useful information for the development of learning strategies when the learning occurs within multimedia environments. The results show that while the concurrent presentation of coupled verbal and visual information is an effective strategy for learning, the segments don’t necessarily need to be presented concurrently, as long as the corresponding successive segments are small enough that the learner can maintain both in WM at the same time.

Blogger: Jackson Wilson is a research assistant in the Language and Working Memory Lab, and is about to begin a Masters of Clinical Science in Speech Language Pathology. But research also beckons…..