Multimedia learning and age: older adults benefit from redundant text in multimedia instruction

In Mayer’s theory on multimedia learning, one of the leading principles is the redundancy principle:

The redundancy principle states that learners can learn better just with animation and narration. The visual text information, which is presented simultaneously to the verbal information, becomes a redundant material. Eliminating redundant material, avoiding narration and “identical” text will be a good way to let learners learn well. The basic reason is people can’t focus when they both hear and see the same verbal message during a presentation (Hoffman, 2006). (source)

Ok, but a new study shows that things could change with getting – much – older as this study shows:

“…older adults learned better with redundant text than images. These findings add to the existing research that demonstrates older adults have superior comprehension of information with redundant text compared to audio only.

Pairing on-screen text with narration provides external contextual aid and may help reduce reliance on cognitive determinants of ability (i.e., WM), thereby enriching the perceptual detail of the presentation and enhancing older adult learning. Additionally, older adults might have difficulty attending to relevant words in the narration (known as selecting in CTML), so providing on-screen text helps compensate for insufficiently selected auditory-verbal input.

This last element was actually something Mayeral ready noted.

The conclusion is clear:

These results highlight the importance of considering age-related differences in learning, and the poor awareness learners have of their, respectively, effective multimedia presentation design.

Or in other words: one size doesn’t fit all.

Abstract of the study:

The multimedia design of presentations typically ignores that younger and older adults have varying cognitive strengths and weaknesses. We examined whether differential instructional design may enhance learning in these populations. Younger and older participants viewed one of three computer-based presentations: Audio only (narration), Redundant (audio narration with redundant text), or Complementary (audio narration with non-redundant text and images). Younger participants learned better when audio narration was paired with relevant images compared to when audio narration was paired with redundant text. However, older participants learned best when audio narration was paired with redundant text. Younger adults, who presumably have a higher working memory capacity (WMC), appear to benefit more from complementary information that may drive deeper conceptual processing. In contrast, older adults learn better from presentations that support redundant coding across modalities, which may help mitigate the effects of age-related decline in WMC. Additionally, several misconceptions of design quality appeared across age groups: both younger and older participants positively rated less effective designs. Findings suggest that one-size does not fit all, with older adults requiring unique multimedia design tailored to their cognitive abilities for effective learning.

 

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One response to “Multimedia learning and age: older adults benefit from redundant text in multimedia instruction

  1. Pingback: Why Your Students Forgot Everything On Your PowerPoint Slides (Mary Jo Madda) | From experience to meaning...

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