Printer Friendly
The Free Library
22,741,889 articles and books

Multimedia in a science learning environment.

This article presents a review of the literature multimedia learning in science. It is no small matter that teachers value using technology, more specifically multimedia, in teaching. But this interest falls far short when it comes to application. Why is it so? This article tries to find the reasons behind this dichotomy di·chot·o·my  
n. pl. di·chot·o·mies
1. Division into two usually contradictory parts or opinions: "the dichotomy of the one and the many" Louis Auchincloss.
. Then, research from science related areas that addresses important issues relevant to multimedia design in conjunction with Mayer's theories is presented. Finally, examples of research involving effective science learning experiences for students with multimedia is presented, and directions for future research are shown. The purpose of this article is to encourage research in order to expand the use of multimedia in the sciences by overcoming the weaknesses that exist at present.


Technology has improved so much today, that it is easy to teach in ways that are both interactive and communicative com·mu·ni·ca·tive  
1. Inclined to communicate readily; talkative.

2. Of or relating to communication.

. Constructivism constructivism, Russian art movement founded c.1913 by Vladimir Tatlin, related to the movement known as suprematism. After 1916 the brothers Naum Gabo and Antoine Pevsner gave new impetus to Tatlin's art of purely abstract (although politically intended)  has come to stay and technology, and more specifically multimedia, has surely helped in its popularity. So, what is multimedia?

Multimedia today refers not only to what is presented through computers, but also through the composition of text and illustrations in print media (Iding, 2000). According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 Mayer (1997), multimedia learning occurs when information is presented in more than one mode. It could be through pictures, words spoken or written, or through video. The effects of multimedia need to be critically researched under diverse conditions, in order to improve the instructional design Instructional design is the practice of arranging media (communication technology) and content to help learners and teachers transfer knowledge most effectively. The process consists broadly of determining the current state of learner understanding, defining the end goal of  process.

The multimedia learning curve can be steep. This could be due to various factors such as knowledge of software and its viability that is dependant on Adj. 1. dependant on - determined by conditions or circumstances that follow; "arms sales contingent on the approval of congress"
contingent on, contingent upon, dependant upon, dependent on, dependent upon, depending on, contingent
 extraneous ex·tra·ne·ous  
1. Not constituting a vital element or part.

2. Inessential or unrelated to the topic or matter at hand; irrelevant. See Synonyms at irrelevant.

 features such as the operating system operating system (OS)

Software that controls the operation of a computer, directs the input and output of data, keeps track of files, and controls the processing of computer programs.
 used, the time taken for creating the multimedia and for downloading the created project, and the most relevant being the readiness of classrooms to make a success of the project. Added to these constraints are other challenges such as computer limitations involving both hardware and software, individual differences among learners' abilities, and their computer expertise, to name a few.

The use of multimedia software is becoming more popular with the improvement in computer technology. But should it be used because it is popular or because it meets the instructional objectives? There is debate going on about the effectiveness of computer-based instruction (CBI CBI
cumulative book index

CBI Confederation of British Industry

CBI n abbr (= Confederation of British Industry) → C.E.O.E.
) versus the traditional classroom approaches or teacher-led approach. CBI or Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI (1) (Computer-Assisted Instruction) Same as CBT.

(2) See CA.

CAI - Computer-Aided Instruction
) as the sole mode of instruction has not been found to be as effective (LaBonty, 1989; Morrell, 1992; Ruef & Layne, 1990). According to McKethan and Everhart (2001), the effectiveness of CBI is dependent upon its purpose, the context of its use and the design of the software, while the effectiveness of lecture based instruction not only is dependent on purpose and context, but also diminishes with time (McKeachie, 1986). The debate on the comparison of different media as a learning tool takes this even deeper. Two of the best known articles on this issue, written by Clark (1983) and Kozma (1991), are on opposite sides of the spectrum. Clark states that it is "what the teacher does--the teaching--that influences learning" and that "we will not find learning differences that can be unambiguously attributed to any medium of instruction." He goes to the extent of recommending that no further research, in exploring the relationship between media and learning, is required. Kozma, on the other hand, takes a diametrically di·a·met·ri·cal   also di·a·met·ric
1. Of, relating to, or along a diameter.

2. Exactly opposite; contrary.

 opposite view. According to him, some students will learn regardless of the use of medium while others need it to help construct knowledge. Therefore, medium and method have an integral relationship and they are both part of the design. McKethan and Everhart (2001) have concluded that multimedia as a learning tool is no better or no worse than the lecture method when the instructional objective requires only a recall of information.

Taking these factors into consideration, it would be interesting to see the effectiveness of multimedia in a learning environment, more specifically in a science learning environment and then to point out the lacuna lacuna /la·cu·na/ (lah-ku´nah) pl. lacu´nae   [L.]
1. a small pit or hollow cavity.

2. a defect or gap, as in the field of vision (scotoma).
 that needs to be filled. But first, it is important to find out what teachers feel about this as it is they who will be guiding students through the whole gamut See color gamut.

gamut - The gamut of a monitor is the set of colours it can display. There are some colours which can't be made up of a mixture of red, green and blue phosphor emissions and so can't be displayed by any monitor.
 of the learning process.

Teachers'Views on Multimedia Instructions

With the availability of standards for using multimedia in classrooms, it would be interesting to know how teachers actually use it productively. Research has shown that teachers are interested in using technology in general and multimedia in particular, provided some of their doubts and apprehensions are removed. What are their apprehensions? Does it really serve their needs and that of their students? Is multimedia just an add-on or does it add value to the curriculum? Can curriculum balance be achieved by using multimedia? A common practical problem they face in a classroom is that there is no space to have desktops for each student, if they could provide one. This is more so in a science lab as the working space for experiments is equally important.

A study done by Iding, Crosby, and Speitel (2002) looked at it from the teachers' perspective and found that for most of them, use of technology for educational purposes was crucial and that technology was underused at present. This could be overcome if administrators were more supportive of the importance of learning with technology than they are. Lack of knowledge is shown by their deeply felt thought that there was no particular software that helped learning. This is surprising seeing their interest level in technology in general.

According to Zhao (1998), it is important to design and develop technology products that meet two goals: to promote adoption and instructional change. Why is adoption so difficult? There are a number of reasons from different perspectives. Cuban (1986) says that it could be due to lack of suitable training, lack of technical and administrator support, lack of incentives, pedagogical ped·a·gog·ic   also ped·a·gog·i·cal
1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of pedagogy.

2. Characterized by pedantic formality: a haughty, pedagogic manner.
 beliefs, and resistance to change. From a teacher's perspective though, it is due to the lack of time to learn and incorporate it and lack of evidence that it would make their work more interesting and effective. If technology products could be made simpler so as to remove the phobia phobia: see neurosis.

Extreme and irrational fear of a particular object, class of objects, or situation. A phobia is classified as a type of anxiety disorder (a neurosis), since anxiety is its chief symptom.
 which some teachers have, it would have a greater impact on their teaching. Products also need to be made in a way that it would support a wide range of pedagogical beliefs. Changes in pedagogical beliefs cannot happen overnight. It is a slow process and when they start to feel comfortable in their new roles, they extend it to other areas.

Successful integration of technology into teaching hinges Hinges may refer to:
  • Plural form of hinge, a mechanical device that connects two solid objects, allowing a rotation between them.
  • Hinges, a commune of the Pas-de-Calais département, in northern France
 on the willingness of teachers to move beyond using just computers as tools to supporting new educational concepts that involve higher order thinking. Multimedia can offer teachers precisely that with a flexible interactive learning environment to enrich their educational experience both as learners and as teachers. A number of studies have proved the effectiveness of multimedia.

Research on Multimedia Interaction

The Internet and the Web have added a new dimension to teaching and learning. They not only integrate different mediums, but also their design, development and implementation. With the paradigm shift A dramatic change in methodology or practice. It often refers to a major change in thinking and planning, which ultimately changes the way projects are implemented. For example, accessing applications and data from the Web instead of from local servers is a paradigm shift. See paradigm.  from teaching to learning, hypermedia hypermedia: see hypertext.

The use of hyperlinks, regular text, graphics, audio and video to provide an interactive, multimedia presentation. All the various elements are linked, enabling the user to move from one to another.
 offers an excellent way for self-paced and exploratory learning more in tune with the constructivist con·struc·tiv·ism  
A movement in modern art originating in Moscow in 1920 and characterized by the use of industrial materials such as glass, sheet metal, and plastic to create nonrepresentational, often geometric objects.
 methodology than the behaviorist Behaviorist

1. One who accepts or assumes the theory of behaviorism (behavioral finance in investing.) 2. A psychologist who subscribes to behaviorism.

When it comes to investing, people may not be as rational as they think.
 methodology. Personalized per·son·al·ize  
tr.v. per·son·al·ized, per·son·al·iz·ing, per·son·al·iz·es
1. To take (a general remark or characterization) in a personal manner.

2. To attribute human or personal qualities to; personify.
 instruction, instant feedback, real world simulations, and most important of all, having fun while learning, is the hallmark of multimedia.

It has been found that the recall of content was better with hypermedia students, while the understanding and competence level of students in the traditional lecture mode was superior to hypermedia students. Since learning involves all three--namely recall, understanding and competence--a mix of the lecture and hypermedia approaches should prove beneficial (Dastbaz & Kalafatis, 2003).

What is meaningful learning? According to Mayer (1997), meaningful learning "occurs when learners select relevant information from what is presented, organize the pieces of information into a coherent mental representation, and integrate the newly constructed representation with others." Processing of what is relevant in both visual and verbal mode is selecting. This is then transformed into visual and verbal mental modes in the visual and verbal short term memory, respectively. Integration occurs when both pieces of information are held in the short term memory simultaneously. Since the short term memory has a limited holding capacity, this could lead to a high cognitive load Cognitive Load is a term (used in Educational psychology and other fields of study) that refers to the load on working memory during problem solving, thinking and reasoning (including perception, memory, language, etc.). . (Chandler & Sweller, 1991).

Various research studies have presented two very conflicting theories in the area of instructional design. The Multiple Representation (MR) theory is built on Paivio's dual-coding theory Dual-code theory a theory of cognition was first advanced by Allan Paivio of the University of Western Ontario. The theory posits that both visual and verbal information are processed differently and along distinct channels with the human mind creating separate representations for  (Clark & Paivio, 1991; Paivio, 1986), according to which multiple references of information, with connections between visual and verbal processing VERBAL PROCESS. In Louisiana, by this term is understood a written account of any proceeding or operation required by law, signed by the person commissioned to perform the duty, and attested by the signature of witnesses. Vide Proces Verbal.  systems, improve and strengthen the learning process. The cognitive-load theory on the other hand, suggests that disparate sources of information may generate a heavy cognitive load that is unfavorable to learning (Chandler & Sweller, 1991; Sweller, 1988, 1989; Sweller, Chandler, Tierney, & Cooper, 1990). Cognitive load could be either intrinsic or extrinsic EVIDENCE, EXTRINSIC. External evidence, or that which is not contained in the body of an agreement, contract, and the like.
     2. It is a general rule that extrinsic evidence cannot be admitted to contradict, explain, vary or change the terms of a contract or of a
. Intrinsic load occurs when there is a high level of interactivity between elements that cannot be learned independently. Extrinsic load occurs when the instructional design is not good enough and imposes a load that has nothing to do with the learning process. MR theory suggests that multimedia programs that concurrently present the same concepts or procedures in several forms improve the learning process, while cognitive-load theory suggests development of multimedia programs that do not over-load the learner with too much redundant concurrent information.

The human cognitive system consists of two distinct channels for representing and manipulating knowledge: a visual-pictorial channel for processing pictures and an auditory-verbal channel for processing spoken words (Baddeley, 1986, 1999; Paivio, 1986). These channels have their limits for holding and manipulating knowledge (Baddeley, 1986, 1999; Sweller, 1999). Meaningful learning occurs when learners engage in active processing within the channels, including selecting relevant words and pictures, organizing them into coherent pictorial and verbal models, and integrating them with each other and appropriate prior knowledge (Mayer, 1999, 2001). These active learning processes are more likely to occur when corresponding verbal and pictorial representations are in working memory at the same time.

In their empirical research Noun 1. empirical research - an empirical search for knowledge
inquiry, research, enquiry - a search for knowledge; "their pottery deserves more research than it has received"
, both Mayer and Sweller have used cognitive theory Conitive theory may refer to:
  • Theory of cognitive development, Jean Piaget's theory of development and the theories which spawned from it.
  • Two factor theory of emotion, another cognitive theory.
 to study multimedia design considerations which would improve learning. Based on their research, the following principles would be worth considering for preparing multimedia presentations:

1. Contiguity contiguity /con·ti·gu·i·ty/ (kon?ti-gu´i-te) contact or close proximity.

The state of being contiguous.
 Principle: Words and pictures should be coordinated in multimedia presentations and presented simultaneously for the learner to integrate and construct mental connections between them.

2. Coherence coherence, constant phase difference in two or more Waves over time. Two waves are said to be in phase if their crests and troughs meet at the same place at the same time, and the waves are out of phase if the crests of one meet the troughs of another.  Principle: When giving a multimedia explanation, use few rather than many extraneous words and pictures. However, make multimedia presentations more interesting by adding adjuncts ADJUNCTS, English law. Additional judges appointed to determine causes in the High Court of Delegates, when the former judges cannot decide in consequence of disagreement, or because one of the law judges of the court was not one of the majority. Shelf. on Lun. 310.  like background music or some animation to spice spice, aromatic vegetable product used as a flavoring or condiment. The term was formerly applied also to pungent or aromatic foods (e.g., gingerbread and currants), to ingredients of incense or perfume (e.g., myrrh), and to embalming agents.  up the lesson, arouse interest and motivate the learner to exert more effort to understand the narrated animation.

3. Redundancy Principle: Students learn more deeply from multimedia presentations consisting of animation and narration than from animation, narration, and on-screen on·screen or on-screen  
adj. & adv.
1. As shown on a movie, television, or display screen.

2. Within public view; in public.

4. Split-attention Principle: Words should be presented aurally au·ral 1  
Of, relating to, or perceived by the ear.

[From Latin auris, ear; see ous- in Indo-European roots.
 rather than visually. On-screen text and animation can overload See information overload and overloading.  the visual information processing information processing: see data processing.
information processing

Acquisition, recording, organization, retrieval, display, and dissemination of information. Today the term usually refers to computer-based operations.
 which in turn would negatively affect the learning process.

5. Personalization Custom tailoring information to the individual. On the Web, personalization means returning a page that has been customized for the user, taking into consideration that person's habits and preferences.  Effect: Students learn more deeply when words are presented in a conversational style than in an expository style.

6. Interactivity: Adding simple user interactivity can improve learning because it reduces the chances of cognitive overload and encourages learners to engage in each of the cognitive processes Cognitive processes
Thought processes (i.e., reasoning, perception, judgment, memory).

Mentioned in: Psychosocial Disorders
 mentioned. At the end of each segment, learners can take all the time they need to build a visual image and coordinate it with the verbal explanation.

Where does Multiple Representations theory fit here? It is known that illustrations are frequently used in text. Peeck (1989) and Levie and Lentz (1982) have found that illustrated text is more memorable in long term than non-illustrated text. Similarly, students who listened to a narration explaining how a bicycle tire pump works while also viewing a corresponding animation did better in problem-solving transfer questions than did students who listened to the same narration without viewing any animation (Mayer & Anderson, 1991, 1992). When content matter is presented in multiple ways or modalities Modalities
The factors and circumstances that cause a patient's symptoms to improve or worsen, including weather, time of day, effects of food, and similar factors.
, it is said to enhance cognition cognition

Act or process of knowing. Cognition includes every mental process that may be described as an experience of knowing (including perceiving, recognizing, conceiving, and reasoning), as distinguished from an experience of feeling or of willing.
, but at the same time it is also said to induce the redundancy effect. When does enhancement change to redundancy or vice versa VICE VERSA. On the contrary; on opposite sides. ? Likewise, do illustrated texts lead to split-attention effect? Though there is enough literature on these theories individually, the connection between them is still missing. What kind of representations help novice learners and what kind of representations will help experienced learners? Perhaps the two disparate theories, cognitive load theory and Multiple Representations theory could be combined to offer the best explanation for the success of MR theory itself. The MR theory would be effective as long as the representations do not lead to an increase in the cognitive load. If the learner has low prior knowledge of the learning material or if the learning material is very complex, it would add to the intrinsic load. Whether or not multiple representations help in such circumstances depends on how it is designed. This may add another degree of complexity to the overall situation.

Mayer feels that though each principle of these principles in multimedia design is subject to limitations and requires more study, there is a future in which the mutually beneficial Adj. 1. mutually beneficial - mutually dependent
interdependent, mutualist

dependent - relying on or requiring a person or thing for support, supply, or what is needed; "dependent children"; "dependent on moisture"
 relation between cognitive theory and educational practice continues to flourish.

Multimedia in Science Education

As Wellington (1999) puts it, there are certain pitfalls in using multimedia especially for a science learning environment. The first of these concerns how realistic the simulations are that are being portrayed por·tray  
tr.v. por·trayed, por·tray·ing, por·trays
1. To depict or represent pictorially; make a picture of.

2. To depict or describe in words.

3. To represent dramatically, as on the stage.
. Do they give the right impressions of science and what scientists do, or do they breed any misconceptions Misconceptions is an American sitcom television series for The WB Network for the 2005-2006 season that never aired. It features Jane Leeves, formerly of Frasier, and French Stewart, formerly of 3rd Rock From the Sun.  about scientific ideas, and about the nature of science? A number of scientific experiments can be done repeatedly without involving the cost of consumables and the regular wear and tear of instruments. So, there is a big economic advantage. Is it enough? Images have the power to mislead mis·lead  
tr.v. mis·led , mis·lead·ing, mis·leads
1. To lead in the wrong direction.

2. To lead into error of thought or action, especially by intentionally deceiving. See Synonyms at deceive.
 as well as to motivate or educate. It would be worthwhile to check the effectiveness of such simulations. The second danger concerns whether the use of multimedia in science teaching is displacing important hands-on experimentation. This is a fear expressed by many researchers including Iding et al (2002). There are benefits of using multimedia in science as this is a subject for which many students tend to have a phobia. With simulated experiments they will lose their fear of conducting experiments which could fail, repeat them a number of times until they feel confident, keep them more focused and most often than not are more interesting than the real experiments since they are more organized and clean.

It would be worthwhile to see how much these advantages transfer into positive learning outcomes. For this purpose, this article has chosen some case-studies on the use of multimedia in teaching sciences that fit-in with some of Mayer's principles of preparing multimedia presentations. This would give an idea of the importance of these principles for science teaching.

Case Study #1 Using Contiguity Principle in a Science Textbook

The authors Iding, Klemm, Crosby and Speitel (2002), have developed a taxonomy taxonomy: see classification.

In biology, the classification of organisms into a hierarchy of groupings, from the general to the particular, that reflect evolutionary and usually morphological relationships: kingdom, phylum, class, order,
 of illustrations that focuses on the cognitive processes or activities such as knowledge acquisition, application and creation. They have examined the different levels of interactivity between science text and illustrations, and interactivity between different illustrations from a unit in a constructivist science text, which has considerable amount of materials in the knowledge application stage and thus gives the necessary background to students. As a model, they used a high school marine biology marine biology, study of ocean plants and animals and their ecological relationships. Marine organisms may be classified (according to their mode of life) as nektonic, planktonic, or benthic. Nektonic animals are those that swim and migrate freely, e.g.  text, The Living Ocean, in the print form. A lot of information is in figures or tables, thus minimizing long paragraphs. Guided and open-ended learning has been used to scaffold scaffold

Temporary platform used to elevate and support workers and materials during work on a structure or machine. It consists of one or more wooden planks and is supported by either a timber or a tubular steel or aluminum frame; bamboo is used in parts of Asia.
 students and to apply their understanding in real world context. Students had to interact with figures and tables as well as external media such as actual fish. According to the authors, "Integration process between text, figures, tables and procedures is necessary and may serve as scaffolding for students." They suggested that illustrations that require integration in a constructivist sense, so as to result in knowledge application or creation, are likely to result in increased "memorability." The authors feel that there were degrees of interactivity between texts and illustrations and also within illustrations. Those that make the reader go back and forth between diagrams and texts to understand may not actually facilitate learning as they increase the cognitive load. Some of the illustrations were contiguous Adjacent or touching. Contrast with fragmentation. See contiguous file.  and could have helped in knowledge acquisition and knowledge application, thereby giving students the necessary background to knowledge creation.

The limitation of this research is that its effect on students had not been researched. Though the text had been researched in detail and has implications for further research its value to students is yet to be proven. However, it raises certain questions such as how the integration of texts and illustrations and integration between various illustrations can be achieved in computer-based multimedia format, without leading to cognitive load.

Case Study #2 Using Contiguity and Coherence Principle

This study deals with ways to use technology effectively and to measure changes in students' proficiency pro·fi·cien·cy  
n. pl. pro·fi·cien·cies
The state or quality of being proficient; competence.

Noun 1. proficiency - the quality of having great facility and competence
 in science as a result of using technology, rather than dwelling on the efficacy of technology (Dimitrov, McGee, & Howard, 2002). The authors have measured changes in students' science proficiency, using the Linear Logistic Models logistic models, statistical models that describe the relationship between a qualitative dependent variable (that is, one that can take only certain discrete values, such as the presence or absence of a disease) and an independent variable.
 for Change (LLMC LLMC Convention on Limitation of Liability for Maritime Claims (Maritime Law)
LLMC Low Level Military Commission
), in the summative Adj. 1. summative - of or relating to a summation or produced by summation

additive - characterized or produced by addition; "an additive process"
 evaluation of Astronomy astronomy, branch of science that studies the motions and natures of celestial bodies, such as planets, stars, and galaxies; more generally, the study of matter and energy in the universe at large.  Village: Investigating the Solar System solar system, the sun and the surrounding planets, natural satellites, dwarf planets, asteroids, meteoroids, and comets that are bound by its gravity. The sun is by far the most massive part of the solar system, containing almost 99.9% of the system's total mass. , developed at Wheeling Jesuit University's Center for Educational Technologies. The final version of Astronomy Village was released in February 2001. It is an inquiry-based design that supports middle school students in learning fundamental concepts in life, earth, and physical science. The purpose of this study was to compare alternative uses of technology for teaching the same interdisciplinary in·ter·dis·ci·pli·nar·y  
Of, relating to, or involving two or more academic disciplines that are usually considered distinct.

 content. Therefore, comparison focused on access to image analysis activities versus no access to image analysis activities. The program has a virtual mentor who guides the students through the various phases of scientific inquiry. Students are transported to a virtual village, to investigate one of the two Core Research Projects: Mission to Pluto or Search for Life. The presence of a virtual guide and the animations shown in the program come under Mayer's coherence principle. The simultaneous presentation of the virtual guide in audio format, text and animation shows Mayer's contiguity principle.

There were three groups of students. Group A did one of the Core Research Projects; Group B did the other Core Research Project. Group C, the alternative treatment group, being the comparison group, studied the same content, but was denied access to image analysis activities. This group had all the background materials in terms of lecture, library articles and hands-on activities. These materials were provided to them through a website specifically designed for the alternative treatment group. The focus for this group was on content-related activities only without any problem solving problem solving

Process involved in finding a solution to a problem. Many animals routinely solve problems of locomotion, food finding, and shelter through trial and error.
 activities and they covered both Core Research Projects in a 4-week period. This was possible because they were learning at a superficial level as is done in the traditional classes. On the other hand, Groups A and B were engaged in both content-related activities as well as the inquiry-oriented image analysis activities and hence could cover only one of the topics as they went to a higher depth due to image analysis. They studied the content and problem-solving from one Core Research Project. In the case of the Search for Life Project, students had to understand the core requirements for life on Earth, do research on it by reading library articles, listening to lectures and conducting hand-on activities. They then proceed to Focused Investigation on narrow topics like investigating whether icy volcanoes could exist on Pluto by examining the surfaces of other icy bodies in the solar system. This was also done in a 4-week period.

All students were assessed based on their thinking and problem-solving skills, and on their ability to transfer these skills to newer contexts--the ability to transfer learning being a critical aspect of education. An example of transfer skills would be having students investigate critical processes and features on a variety of planets and moons and transfer their understanding to hypothetical planets and moons. The content understanding and problem solving scales were administered to all students as a pretest pre·test  
a. A preliminary test administered to determine a student's baseline knowledge or preparedness for an educational experience or course of study.

b. A test taken for practice.

 and posttest post·test  
A test given after a lesson or a period of instruction to determine what the students have learned.

The strength of the software lay in the use of image analysis to answer important research questions. The authors concluded that materials developed for this project could be used effectively to promote interdisciplinary understanding and problem solving in planetary science planetary science or planetology, study of planets and planetary systems as a whole. Planetary science applies the theories and methods of traditional disciplines such as astronomy, geology, physics, chemistry, and mathematics to the study of  within a short period of time. It was found that the knowledge students developed in Search for Life were transferred to solve Mission to Pluto problems. The use of image analysis could have helped in this regard. The design considerations making use of contiguity principle and coherence principle seem to be helpful in this case study.

Case Study # 3 Proving Split-Attention Principle

Comprehension of chemistry involves certain unique challenges. It involves the abstract nature of the subject at the microscopic microscopic /mi·cro·scop·ic/ (mi?kro-skop´ik)
1. of extremely small size; visible only by the aid of the microscope.

2. pertaining or relating to a microscope or to microscopy.
 level when dealing with atoms and molecules, at the macroscopic macroscopic /mac·ro·scop·ic/ (mak?ro-skop´ik) gross (2).

mac·ro·scop·ic or mac·ro·scop·i·cal
1. Large enough to be perceived or examined by the unaided eye.

 level when dealing with real world situations and at the symbolic level when dealing with formulas and equations. It is difficult to show their inter-relationship without teaching aids teaching aids nplmateriales mpl pedagógicos

teaching aids nplsupports mpl pédagogiques

teaching aids teach npl

A study conducted by Rodrigues, Smith, and Ainley (2001) investigated students' preferences for and interests in using animation and videos found in chemistry CD-ROMS. It investigates whether animations of the microscopic interpretation of the macroscopic event helped or hindered students' understanding of the event. The topics chosen were familiar ones such as boiling water, melting ice cubes cubes

See QQQ.
, and stirring sugar in water.

Students selected any of the topics, all of which were in four presentation formats: video, video with text, animation and animation with text. They were allowed to pick one of these after examining how each of these works. In other words Adv. 1. in other words - otherwise stated; "in other words, we are broke"
put differently
, the choice was left entirely to the students.

In this quantitative study, students were asked multiple choice questions after finishing a topic and before proceeding to the next topic. They were then given a brief one-page survey that sought their reasons for selecting particular presentations and their perception of the usefulness of these presentations for able students and students with learning disabilities.

Students showed preference for both animation and video presentations with accompanied text explanations rather than without text. Animations or video clips A short video presentation.  with text explanations were selected 73% of the time. The use of text explanations increased between the first and second topic, but declined from the second to the third. The number of students using animations declined between the first and second topic. The text accompaniments were perceived to be useful in the understanding of subject matter. Video was perceived to be easier to understand than animation. It is interesting to note that only 4 of the 22 students cited that the actual video footage employed in the video presentations was an aid to understanding. The authors feel that text could have been a distraction Distraction
Divination (See OMEN.)


a “person from Porlock” interrupted Coleridge while he was recollecting the dream on which he based “Kubla Khan”. [Br. Lit.: Poems of Coleridge in Magill IV, 756]
 as some students missed important frames of animation while reading the text and therefore animations could have been more difficult to comprehend corroborating with Sweller's split attention principle. Animations were "holistic and required viewing throughout the segment" while videos were day to day affairs such as boiling water or an ice cube melting. So, they were not actually viewing the video but rather reading the text.

Students had a choice to replay animations at any stage, which they did not use. Navigation methods also showed that students did not make use of the various choices available to them. This could be due to cognitive over-load. Though decision making was delegated to students, they were unable to utilize it to their advantage, which showed that scaffolding is required.

Case Study #4 Using Interactivity Principle

Teachers' adoption of technology should transfer to students' acceptance of it too. Discovering Science is a Level 1 science course produced by the Open University. It is an inter-disciplinary course, covering a wide range of topics in biology, chemistry, earth science and physics, incorporating interactive multimedia activities to help develop skills. In this study conducted by Lawless LAWLESS. Without law; without lawful control.  and Stuart (2001), students were provided with 27 interactive multimedia activities incorporating a rich mixture of video, audio, photographs, graphics, text and questions in an interactive way that is controlled by the student user. The multimedia activities had a wide range of styles that included virtual field trips and virtual experiments, simulations of complex mathematical models
Note: The term model has a different meaning in model theory, a branch of mathematical logic. An artifact which is used to illustrate a mathematical idea is also called a mathematical model and this usage is the reverse of the sense explained below.
, and videos of 3D objects and molecules. Some were exploratory resource-based activities, whereas others had a more linear structure. Students completed an activity, and then resumed studying the book. Thus the learning materials were integrated with a variety of media. This study aimed at investigating how distance-learning students study these multimedia materials as characterized by their learning style or their age, and whether there are any barriers to their effective use.

These multimedia activities were created in a way that allowed students the same flexibility of choice as they have with a book: the facility to skim through; to readily access any point in the material; and to decide whether to answer a question. Many students spent time exploring every screen, every picture, and every video clip provided in an activity in case they missed something important. This shows that they needed more scaffolding than was given.

Evaluation of the multimedia was done through questionnaires and interviews. The questionnaires contained basic questions that had clear positive or negative responses, followed by wider questions to amplify the positive or negative responses. Students were asked about their general reactions to learning from the specific activities covered by the questionnaire, and were also asked to compare learning from the multimedia activities with learning from the other course materials. 74% of students made positive comments, 8% made negative comments and 18% made both positive and negative or ambivalent am·biv·a·lent  
Exhibiting or feeling ambivalence.

am·biva·lent·ly adv.

Adj. 1.

The most common positive comments were about the interactivity of the activities (13%), that studying multimedia activities was enjoyable/fun (12%), about the benefits of the visual presentation (11%), that the CD-ROM CD-ROM: see compact disc.
 in full compact disc read-only memory

Type of computer storage medium that is read optically (e.g., by a laser).
 material was easier to learn/understand/use (8%), that it was helpful/useful (7%) and interesting (6%), and about the relief that multimedia activities provided from studying other materials (8%). The most frequent negative comments related to the time required (3%), the problems caused by the need for access to the computer at the appropriate time (2%), and navigation problems (2%). The few negative comments obtained also gave an insight into students' learning styles. Those students who preferred to reproduce knowledge rather than transfer knowledge were the ones who preferred the print to multimedia. All those interviewed were positive about their experience of working through the multimedia activities, and they were particularly keen about the interactive nature of the activities.

The students' strongly favorable fa·vor·a·ble  
1. Advantageous; helpful: favorable winds.

2. Encouraging; propitious: a favorable diagnosis.

 attitudes to multimedia activities seem to dispel reservations about the acceptability and the effectiveness for multimedia learning for science. Students rated the activities interesting, enjoyable, and helpful for learning and remembering, and they particularly valued the interactive nature of the learning experience and the visual nature of the presentation. They seemed to understand and comprehend subject matter better.

Case Study #5 Using Multiple Representation Theory

This case study deals with the effectiveness of schema training in illustration types and text-illustration relations for learning from a college physiology physiology (fĭzēŏl`əjē), study of the normal functioning of animals and plants during life and of the activities by which life is maintained and transmitted. It is based fundamentally on the activities of protoplasm.  text (Iding, 2000). Illustrations do have an aesthetic appeal, but does it help students to learn better? Iding finds this to be consistent with the dual coding theory Coding theory is a branch of mathematics and computer science dealing with the error-prone process of transmitting data across noisy channels, via clever means, so that a large number of errors that occur can be corrected.  as illustrations use the visual-spatial channel while the text would use the verbal channel.

Two independent groups, a control group and an instructional (treatment) group, were part of this three-day between-subjects research. There were thirty-three subjects in each group. On the first day, a 13-page instructional workbook work·book  
1. A booklet containing problems and exercises that a student may work directly on the pages.

2. A manual containing operating instructions, as for an appliance or machine.

 was given to the instructional group which had examples of four types of diagrams: identification, comparison, sequential and combination. The workbook also had a presentation of two types of text-illustration relationships: repeat (illustrations repeat what the text says) and elaborate (illustrations provide new information not in the text). These were followed by three exercises which consisted of text passages with accompanying illustrations. Note-taking format was also presented for each exercise. Subjects had to identify the type of diagram and text-illustration using the format given.

The control group, on the other hand, was given a 12-page introductory ecology text passage to read. The second day, both groups were given a 6-page passage titled "The Ears and Hearing" on the anatomy of the human ear and physiology of hearing. The passage was from a college-level introductory physiology textbook, Human Physiology Human physiology is the science of the mechanical, physical, and biochemical functions of humans in good health, their organs, and the cells of which they are composed. The principal level of focus of physiology is at the level of organs and systems.  by Stuart Ira Fox (1990). Each subject also received a packet of three pages for note-taking. The control group was asked to take notes only if they wished to do so. The instructional group was asked to take notes in the format they learnt the previous day.

Assessments were done on the third day. Subjects were initially given a pretest on the first day to assess their previous knowledge on the human ear and a brief background questionnaire. On the third day, subjects were assessed on the two illustration-text relationships, diagram labeling and application. The text-illustrations were multiple-choice questions and the application questions were of the short-answer type.

Both groups performed better on text-and-diagram multiple-choice items (M = 8.68) than on text-only multiple choice items (M = 7.80). This suggests that the illustrated material was better retained than the non-illustrated material. The study revealed no main effects between groups on the two types of text-illustration relationships and no interaction between grouping and performance either. However, there were no significant differences between the two groups either on diagram-labeling or application test performance.

This study proves that in the print form, students perform better on text-and-diagram multiple-choice items than on text-only items in response to a physiology passage. This is helpful as it can be replicated effectively in a number of science texts especially in areas where visualization Using the computer to convert data into picture form. The most basic visualization is that of turning transaction data and summary information into charts and graphs. Visualization is used in computer-aided design (CAD) to render screen images into 3D models that can be viewed from all  processes are required. This finding is also consistent with prior research indicating that illustrated text is better retained than non-illustrated text (Peeck, 1989; Levie & Lentz, 1982). It also proves the dual coding theory that illustrations with text and image help in better performance than text alone.


When an international organization like United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO UNESCO: see United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.
 in full United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
) tries to incorporate multimedia in its training programs (Badran, 1995), it adds to multimedia's luster. The use of multimedia is advantageous, but only if it is interactive and allows its users to control it. In other words, the user has to be an active participant rather than a passive observer. It helps more when the topic is interdisciplinary as it saves time and allows for a more real world experience. It also allows for easy integration into the curriculum and instruction standards, especially when most of Mayer's principles are followed.

Multimedia development for science learning is still in its developmental stage. Though some of the case studies presented here are specific to a particular branch of science, it can be generalized gen·er·al·ized
1. Involving an entire organ, as when an epileptic seizure involves all parts of the brain.

2. Not specifically adapted to a particular environment or function; not specialized.

 to science as a whole. Today, a number of multimedia creations are available for use in classrooms, but their efficacy is still in doubt. This could be due to various reasons like non-availability, high cost, bad design, not user-friendly, too complicated, and lack of guidance. Certain areas need more attention than have been given if multimedia has to really succeed. Some of them are:

* Need for software in all areas that are user-friendly. Technology has to meet with teachers and not the other way round.

* Mentoring teachers to remove their bias against technology.

* Need to help teachers get involved in learning and creating better, learner-friendly multimedia projects.

* Help teachers take into account curricular context and classroom dynamics for integrating multimedia into teaching.

* Multimedia projects should take into consideration cognitive load.

* When decision making is left to students, they require guided scaffolding.

Though a number of research studies have helped in solving a number of issues related to multimedia, this literature review has implications beyond the efficacy of multimedia projects and would like to stress on points that will further improve and sustain the ongoing interest in these projects. Some of them can be listed as follows:

* Is the interest shown in multimedia due to its novelty? What will happen when this novelty wears off?

* Do too many options lead to an increase or a decrease in cognitive overload?

* Scaffolding is necessary for a multimedia environment, but to what extent?

* What effect on cognition does the replacement of hands-on activities, like dissection dissection /dis·sec·tion/ (di-sek´shun)
1. the act of dissecting.

2. a part or whole of an organism prepared by dissecting.
, with computer simulated activities have?

* What is the connection between multiple representations and cognitive load?

* Do illustrated texts give rise to split-attention effect?

More research is needed to know the effectiveness of multimedia in sciences for long term retention, comprehension and utility. Answers to the above questions will certainly provide more insight on this and help teachers to better guide students in their learning process.


Badran, A. (1995). Promoting clean technology through the use of multimedia learning material in environmental engineering. European Journal European Journal is a weekly Deutsche Welle (DW) news program produced in English. It is broadcast from Brussels, Belgium and primarily covers political and economic developments across the European Union and the rest of Europe, as well as issues of particular concern to  of Engineering Education. 20(2), 183-183.

Baddeley, A. D. (1986). Working memory. New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of
: Oxford University Press.

Chandler, P., & Sweller, J. (1991). Cognitive load theory and the format of instruction. Cognition and Instruction, 8, 293-332.

Clark, J. M., & Paivio, A. (1991). Dual coding theory and education. Educational Psychology Review, 3, 149-210.

Cuban, L. (1986). Teachers and machines: The classroom use of technology since 1920. New York: Teachers College Press.

Dastbaz, M., Kalafatis, S. P. (2003). Can Hypermedia Aided Learning (HAL Hal: see Halle, Belgium.

In Sufism, a state of mind reached from time to time by mystics during their journey toward God. The ahwal (plural of hal) are God-given graces that appear when a soul is purified of its attachments to the material world.
) deliver? International Journal of Instructional Media, 30(2), 149-162.

Dimitrov, D. M., McGee, S., & Howard, B. C. (2002). Changes in students' science ability produced by multimedia learning environment: Application of the linear logistic lo·gis·tic   also lo·gis·ti·cal
1. Of or relating to symbolic logic.

2. Of or relating to logistics.

[Medieval Latin logisticus, of calculation
 model for change. School Science and Mathematics, 102(1), 15-24.

Iding, M., Klemm, E. B., Crosby, E. M., Speitel, T. (2002). Interactive texts figures, and tables for learning science: Constructivism in text design. International Journal of Instructional Media, 29(4), 441-452.

Iding, M., Crosby, M. E., Speitel, T. (2002). Teachers and technology: Beliefs and practices. International Journal of Instructional Media, 29(2), 153-170.

Iding, M. (2000). Is seeing believing? Features of effective multimedia for learning science. International Journal of Instructional Media, 27(4), 403-416.

Iding, M. (2000). Can strategies facilitate learning from illustrated science texts? International Journal of Instructional Media, 27(3), 13.

LaBonty, D. (1989). Computer-assisted homework in accounting: Effects on student achievement and attitude. Delta Phi Delta Phi (ΔΦ) is a fraternity founded in 1827 at Union College in Schenectady, New York. Founded as part of the Union Triad, along with the Kappa Alpha Society and Sigma Phi Society, Delta Phi was the third and last member of the Triad.  Epilon Journal, 31, 47-55.

Lawless, C., & Freake, S. (2001). Students' use of multimedia activities in an open university introductory science course. Journal of Educational Media, 26(2), 25.

Levie, W. H., & Lentz, R. (1982). Effects of text illustrations: A review of research. Educational Communication and Technology Journal, 30, 195-232.

Marcus, N., Cooper, M., & Sweller, J. (1996). Understanding instructions. Journal of Educational Psychology, 88, 49-63.

Mayer, R. (1997). Multimedia learning: Are we asking the right questions? Educational Psychologist, 32(1), 1-19.

Mayer, R. (2002) Cognitive theory and the design of multimedia instruction: An example of the two-way street between cognition and instruction. New Directions For Teaching And Learning, 89.

Mayer, R. E., & Anderson, R. B. (1991). Animations need narrations: An experimental test of a dual-coding hypothesis. Journal of Educational Psychology, 83, 484-490.

Mayer, R. E., & Anderson, R. B. (1992). The instructive in·struc·tive  
Conveying knowledge or information; enlightening.

in·structive·ly adv.
 animation: Helping students build connections between words and pictures in multimedia learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 84, 444-452.

McKeachie, W. (1986). Teaching tips: A guidebook for the beginning college teacher. D.C. Heath. Boston, MA.

McKethan, R., & Everhart, B. (2001). The effects of multimedia software instruction and lecture-based instruction on learning and teaching cues of manipulative ma·nip·u·la·tive  
Serving, tending, or having the power to manipulate.

Any of various objects designed to be moved or arranged by hand as a means of developing motor skills or understanding abstractions, especially in
 skills on preservice physical education teachers. Physical Educator, 58(1), 12.

Moreno, R., & Mayer, R. (1999). Multimedia-supported metaphors for meaning making in mathematics. Cognition & Instruction, 17(3), 34.

Morrell, P. (1992). The effects of computer-assisted instruction computer-assisted instruction

Use of instructional material presented by a computer. Since the advent of microcomputers in the 1970s, computer use in schools has become widespread, from primary schools through the university level and in some preschool programs.
 on student achievement in high school biology. School Science and Mathematics, 92, 177-181.

Rodrigues, S., Smith, A., & Ainley M., (2001). Video clips and animation in chemistry CD-ROMS: Student interest and preference. Australian Science Teachers Journal, 47(2), 7.

Paivio, A. (1986). Mental representations: A dual coding approach. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

Peeck, J. (1989). Trends in the delayed use of information from illustrated text. In H. Mandl and J. R. Stevens (Eds.), Knowledge Acquisition from Text and Pictures, (pp. 263-267). North-Holland: Elsevier.

Ruef, S., & Layne, T. (1990). A study of the effects of computer-assisted instruction in the social studies. Social Studies, 81, 73-76.

Sweller, J. (1988). Cognitive load during problem solving: Effects on learning. Cognitive Science cognitive science

Interdisciplinary study that attempts to explain the cognitive processes of humans and some higher animals in terms of the manipulation of symbols using computational rules.
, 12, 257-285.

Sweller, J. (1989). Cognitive technology: Some procedures for facilitating learning and problem solving in mathematics and science. Journal of Educational Psychology, 81, 457-466.

Sweller, J., Chandler, P., Tierney, P., & Cooper, M. (1990). Cognitive load as a factor in structuring technical material. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 119, 176-192.

Sweller, J. (1999). Instructional design in technical areas. Camberwell, Australia: ACER Press.

Wellington, J. (1999). Multimedia in science teaching: Friend or foe? Physics Education, 35(6), 351-359.

Zhao, Y. (1998). Design for Adoption: The development of an integrated web-based education environment. Journal of Research on Computing computing - computer  in Education, 30(3), 18.


Texas Tech University



Texas Tech University

COPYRIGHT 2005 Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE)
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

 Reader Opinion




Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Crooks, Steven
Publication:Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2005
Previous Article:YADBrowser: a browser for web-based educational applications.
Next Article:Instructional media choice: factors affecting the preferences of distance education coordinators.

Related Articles
Middle school students as multimedia designers: a project-based learning approach.
The effects of multimedia on learning in third world children.
The ideal multimedia-enabled classroom: perspectives from psychology, education, and information science.
Multimedia learning environments for early readers.
An integrated model of multimedia learning and motivation.
Learning with multimedia cases: an evaluation study.
Student tools supported by collaboratively authored tasks: the case of work learning unit.
Volitional aspects of multimedia learning.
Snapshots of interactive multimedia at work across the curriculum in deaf education: implications for public address training.
Virtual design based research.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2014 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters