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The recipient of several career achievement awards, Richard Mayer is a "rock star" of educational psychology. Mayer's Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning is based on three assumptions:
Learners receive auditory information through voices and other sounds, as well as visual material in the form of images and words. Instructors should use both, designing learning experiences that are consistent with the way our brains work.
Multimedia Principle or Picture Superiority Effect?
People often mix up these two psychological concepts. The picture superiority effect says people are more likely to remember images than words. Mayer's central notion, the "multimedia principle", is that people learn better from words and pictures together than from words alone. Research based on the Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning has produced several other principles. Some help learners reduce extraneous processing so they can focus on relevant material. Others help learners manage essential processing — filtering out extraneous information, selecting relevant material, and moving it to working memory. Still others foster generative processing (sense-making -- organizing new material into coherent structures and integrating it with prior knowledge).
Not all images are created equal. Just adding images to learning materials does not automatically make them more effective. You need to use the right kind. Ruth Clark, one of Mayer's collaborators, has conducted research on the design and evaluation of visuals for learning. She lists seven kinds of graphics (below) and categorizes four as "explanatory" (highlighted in yellow). Explanatory images depict relationships and are especially useful in building deep levels of understanding.
|Decorative||Add aesthetic appeal or humor|
|Representational||Depict an object in a realistic fashion|
|Mnemonic||Provide retrieval cues for factual information|
|Organizational||Show qualitative relationships among content|
|Relational||Show quantitative relationships among two or more variables|
|Transformational||Show changes in objects over time or space|
|Interpretive||Illustrate a theory or principle|
That's probably more detail that you wanted, and you may be wondering why there are not more types of graphics. The point is that not all images are the same. When choosing a drawing, chart, or photo for use in class, ask yourself how it will help the students learn.
AND - view the slides at right
Reflect on what you learned and make some notes for later writing. These prompts may help:
Create a set of visuals with images. Include exemplars of two or more of Mayer's principles. Follow the principles by doing things like avoiding extraneous material or text that you plan to speak out loud. Use at least one explanatory image (yellow highlight, chart above).
In the video below, Pre-training and Coherence principles are used to improve a slide.
Consider what you created and write down a reflection of at least 250 words.
Include (at least) the following in your reflection:
A specific reference to the Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning
Connections - relate your learning for this badge to your own teaching & learning, both past experience and future plans
Link - at least one other resource, article, website, etc.
Media - at least one embedded image or video (include the source).
These prompts may help:
Principles for Multimedia Learning - a 2014 Mayer talk [slides from that lecture]
Books (online access for ND only):