Mayer, “Multimedia Learning: Are We Asking the Right Questions?”

Mayer, Richard E.  “Multimedia Learning: Are We Asking the Right Questions?” Educational Psychologist, 32 (no. 1), 1-19.

Abstract: “How can we help students to understand scientific explanations of cause-and-effect systems, such as how a pump works, how the human respiratory system works, or how lightning storms develop? One promising approach involves multimedia presentation of explanationsin visual and verbal formats, such as presenting computer-generated animations synchronized with computer-generated narration or presenting illustrations next to corresponding text. In a review of eight studies concerning whether multimedia instruction is effective, there wz~sconsistent evidence for a multimedia effect: Students who received coordinated presentation of explana- tio:ns in verbal and visual format (multiple representation group) generated a meldian of over 75% more creative solutions on problem-solving transfer tests than did students who received verbal explanations alone (single representation group). In a review of 10 studies; concerning when multimedia instruction is effective, there was consistent evidence for a contiguity effect: Students generated a median. of over 50% more creative solutions to transfer prolblems when verbal and visual explanationswere coordinated (integratedgroup) than when they were not colordinated (separated group). Finally, in a review of six studies concerning for whom multimedia instruction is effective, Attribute x Treatment interactions indicated that multimedia and contiguity effects were strongest for low prior knowledge and high spatial ability students. Results are consistent with a generative theory of multimedia learning in which learners actively select, organize, and integrate verbal and visual information.”

The article is available here:

or, here: mayer_1997

Rick W. Burkett runs the John A. Logan College Teaching and Learning Center, teaches history, and heads an educational nonprofit. He publishes blogs on a wide variety of topics, including history, teaching and learning, student success, and teaching online.
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