From Diversifying Economic Quality: A Wiki for Instructors and Departments
Many instructors use multimedia, including presentation tools such as Microsoft PowerPoint, in the classroom to hold students' attention and to streamline class preparation. Here is what the latest research tells us about the effective use of multimedia presentations:
- Avoid duplication. Research by Jamet and Le Bohec in 2006 showed that presenting students with a Powerpoint presentation that directly mirrored the instructor's lecture resulted in lower information recall on multiple types of tests.
- Concise is better. Research in 2003 by Bartsch and Cohern showed that elaborate PowerPoint features such as unrelated images, sounds, and extraneous information impaired student learning.
- Draw graphs in class. Research in 2003 by Stern, Aprea and Ebner showed that groups presented with a graph that was ‘actively illustrated’ performed better in recall tasks than groups passively presented with the same graph. 'Actively illustration' is when students are asked to develop a graph themselves rather than merely having a graph shown to them.
Ten Secrets For Using PowerPoint Effectively offers some basic advice. The website Starting Point: Teaching and Learning Economics, which was created by KimMarie McGoldrick (University of Richmond), Scott Simkins (North Carolina A&T University), Mark Maier (Glendale Community College), and Cathy Manduca (Carleton College), contains more information concerning technology in the economics classroom.
"9 Ways to Reduce Cognitive Load in Multimedia Learning" (Mayer & Moreno, 2003)
Mayer and Moreno propose a theory of multimedia learning and cognitive overload based on 3 assumptions. Cognitive overload is a term used in cognitive psychology to describe the overwhelming effects of a large amount of information on a person's working memory. Mayer and Moreno's theory involves three assumptions about cognitive overload. The first is called the dual-channel assumption and says that humans process verbal and visual in separate systems. The second, the limited-capacity assumption, argues that a limit exists as to the amount of information each system can process at any given time. Lastly, the active-processing assumption says that meaningful learning represents necessitates higher cognitive processes such as building connections between verbal and visual representations of information. Oftentimes, multimedia presentations bombard students with text, pictures, and audio all at the same time. If the assumptions in Mayer and Moreno's theory hold, multimedia learning may present a challenge to student's mental capacity, particularly for students who are not strong visual and/or verbal learners. The authors propose several ways of alleviating Cognitive Overload here: "9 Ways to Reduce Cognitive Load in Multimedia Learning" (Mayer & Moreno, 2003).
Effective Use of Visuals- Bartsch & Cobern, 2003.
While PowerPoints can be an effective teaching tool, it is important that teachers use visuals and effects judiciously. Bartsch and Cohen (2003) discussed two separate studies which examined the the effectiveness of and reaction to the use of PowerPoint presentations in college lecture classes.
The first study compared and contrasted PowerPoint presentations with transparencies as a tool to improve student performance and satisfaction in a course. Lecturers presented students with three types of multimedia: transparencies, basic PowerPoint (text only), and expanded PowerPoint (animated text, pictures, and sound). While researchers found no difference in students' liking of the three formats, the students felt that they learned more from PowerPoint presentations. However, students performed approximately 10% worse when presented with material in the expanded PowerPoint treatment than in the basic PowerPoint or the transparency treatment. This suggests that excessive use of visual effects may be harmful to the learning process.In light of this finding, Bartsch and Cohen next looked at whether the relevancy of graphics affected the impact of a presentation on performance. Students watched three types of PowerPoints: text-only, text and relevant visuals, and text and irrelevant visuals. They then were tested on their memory of facts from the PowerPoint Results showed that relevant visuals did not cause students to perform better or worse than a text-only PowerPoint, but that irrelevant visuals caused students to perform worse than in the other two conditions. Bartsch and Cohen conclude that while PowerPoints can be beneficial, "material that is not pertinent to the presentation can be harmful to students' learning.
Effective Use of Text- Jamet & Le Bohec, 2006.
When presenting a PowerPoint presentation, it is important that what the presenter is saying is not directly replicated in the text on the screen. Eric Jamet and Olivier Le Bohec, of the Université Rennes, examined the effects of redundant text on performance when using multimedia as a teaching technique. They showed three groups of students three different types of multimedia. The first group saw no written text. The second group viewed written text and then heard the same information spoken. The third group saw and heard the information at the same time. Results showed that duplication of the text, regardless of whether it was sequential or static, resulted in lower retention of material in subsequent memory tests. These findings suggest that overloading a student with both visual and auditory signals may actually be detrimental to their academic performance.
Click here to see the study.
Effective Use of Graphs- Stern, Aprea and Ebner, 2006.
Graphs are an integral part of teaching economic concepts, but can be ineffective if not used properly. Stern, Aprea and Ebner looked at how people can use graphs to transfer knowledge from one topic in economics to another. In their studies, participants first learned about stockkeeping in one of three ways. The first group was shown text and a graph about the topic, but did not have to engage with the graph. The second group were shown text and learned how to construct a linear graph about this topic through a set of instructions. A control group merely received text about the topic. Then, all the participants had to process a text and answer questions regarding a different economics topic, revenue functions and break-even points of companies. The questions could easily be answered through the construction of a linear graph similar to the one shown to the first two groups. The study found that groups who actively engaged in drawing graphs about stockkeeping performed better on later questions, particularly if they drew a graph to answer the questions about revenue functions. This study presents strong support for the practice of requiring students to draw graphs to illustrate theories rather than merely asking them to describe the theories in words.
Click here to see the study.
Multimedia should serve as a guide to lecture, not compete with the teacher. This means that teachers have to be careful to not only keep student attention, but also make smart multimedia decisions to ensure every minute of lecture is transmitting information to the student in an efficient, engaging way.
Bartsch, R. and K. Cobern. "Effectiveness of PowerPoint Presentations in Lectures." Computers & Education 41.1 (2003): 77-86. Print.
Jamet, E., and O. Lebohec. "The Effect of Redundant Text in Multimedia Instruction." Contemporary Educational Psychology 32.4 (2007): 588-98. Print.
Mayer, R., and R. Moreno. "Nine Ways to Reduce Cognitive Load in Multimedia Learning." Educational Psychologist 38.1 (2003): 43-52. Print.
Stern, E., C. Aprea, and H. Ebner. "Improving Cross-content Transfer in Text Processing by Means of Active Graphical Representation." Learning and Instruction 13.2 (2003): 191-203. Print.