Literacy and the Learning Sciences

“A second program of research addressing multimedia learning has been conducted by Richard Mayer and his colleagues and is summarized in Mayer (2001). A caveat relative to this research is that multimedia are construed very narrowly in this research to mean ‘the presentation of material using both words and pictures’ (p. 2) and do not study information technologies specifically. Furthermore, the preponderance of his research has been conducted with young adults. Nevertheless, we include his work because: (a) it is informed by and contributes to a theory of multimedia learning, drawing upon Paivio’s (1986) dual coding theory, Baddeley’s (1992) working memory theory, and Mayer’s (1996) theory of meaningful learning; (b) it attends to the issue of individual differences; and (c) it may productively inform the work of learning scientists studying new literacies.

This program of research has yielded seven principles regarding the effective integration of words and pictures:

1. Multimedia principle–Students learn better from words and pictures than from words alone.

2. Spatial contiguity principles–Students learn better when corresponding words and pictures are present near rather than far from each other on the page or screen.

3. Temporal contiguity principle–Students learn better when corresponding words and pictures are presented simultaneously rather than successively.

4. Coherence principle–Students learn better when extraneous material is excluded rather than included.

5. Modality principle–Students learn better when an animation is accompanied by spoken text, rather than printed text.

6. Redundancy principle–Students learn better from an animation accompanied with spoken text rather than an animation accompanied with spoken text and printed text, and

7. Individual difference principle–Design effects positively correlate with users’ domain knowledge and spatial ability.

Learning scientists should study whether these principles still hold in the contexts they find most compelling: real-life settings in which learning is taking place through interactions with others and with technological artifacts.”

Excerpted from: Annemarie Sullivan Palincsar and Barbara G. Ladewski, “Literacy and the Learning Sciences,” in in The Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences, ed. Robert Keith Sawyer (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 306.

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