Date of Award
Master of Science
Curriculum and Instruction
Ana-Paula P. Correia
The modality principle was first addressed in 1989 by Mayer and Moreno. The modality principle asserts presenting words as speech, rather than on-screen text, is more effective for the learner. The modality principle states that learners are more successful with understanding information that uses narration than on-screen text because the on-screen text may produce a cognitive overload if it is accompanied by other visual elements. This overload may occur due to the learner needing to give attention to the visual graphic/image as well as provide visual attention to the on-screen text. However, if the on-screen text is narrated, the learner will be able to process this information with the auditory channel and thereby, not taxing the visual channel. Over the next fifteen years, additional studies were completed addressing the modality principle. Many of the studies provided additional data and support for the modality principle in multimedia learning environments. However, some studies began to show the modality principle’s impact had certain parameters and was impacting different groups, conditions and environments differently. Recently, fewer studies have been conducted, but those that have been completed are also showing additional modifications to the impact of the modality principle. With the results of the previous studies indicating the changing impact of the modality principle, it seemed apparent that a near replication of the earliest modality principle study would benefit current understandings among today’s learners. This replication is needed as the modality principle is impacting the field of education and corporations as they try to implement best practices for their students/clients. The early studies showing the predominately positive impact of the modality principle have recently been brought into question. Replicating the original study will provide data to either support, question and/or refine the original study.
The current study replicated Mayer and Moreno’s study of 1989 in part, which was also addressed in Moreno’s study in 2006. Seventy-nine college students attending a Midwestern University participated in this study. The current study included the participants completing similar items that were presented in the original study: a pre-survey, a viewing of PowerPoint presentation, and an assessment. However, two variations of the original study were made. The first variation included changing the testing environment from a lab-like setting to the actual classroom of the participants (natural setting). The second variation was recognizing that the current participants, unlike the original group from nearly 15 years prior, would be experienced online learners who also had experience with multimedia formats and multimedia learning environments due the integration of technology into the classroom and daily life over the past 15 years.
The results of the study showed that the modality principle was not an effective strategy for the group of low-experience content users. The results from the study show the retention and transfer of knowledge is not as effective for students who viewed the narrated PowerPoint presentation. In fact, students who viewed the PowerPoint presentation that only included the onscreen text, had more effective retention and transfer of knowledge.
Amy Marie Oberfoell
Oberfoell, Amy Marie, "Understanding the role of the modality principle in multimedia learning environments" (2015). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 14602.