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The features of multimedia instruction that promote meaningful distance learning

Grant Winners

  • Sarah Ransdell, Ph.D.
  • Sandrine Gaillard-Kenney, Ed.D.
  • Brianna Kent, Ph.D., RN


  • Richard E. Davis, Ed.D.


Award Winners

Meaningful learning takes place when students have good retention of information and can transfer learning to a new situation (Mayer, 2001). Rote learning occurs when students retain, but do not transfer what they learn. So while rote learning is a necessary but insufficient condition for meaningful learning, it is not the main purpose of good instruction. The practical goal of the present research is to highlight the cognitive affordances of computer-based text, with and without narration (found typically in Powerpoint slides, ppt) and animated narration (typical of a new technology called Tegrity) that contribute to meaningful distance learning. The repeated measures design provides informationally equivalent instructional materials without narration in ppt, with narration in ppt, and with narration and animation in Tegrity in counterbalanced order for 75 graduate students taking blended (online and onsite) courses in the Health Science department. The main outcome variables include both rote and meaningful learning in the form of transfer to novel problem sets. This research is important because technological advances continue to outstrip our theoretical understanding of how they work (i.e. Mayer, 1997; Reiber, 1990). Research continues to show that it is not the tool, but the use of the tool that matters most (Mayer, 2001). The theoretical goal of the present research is to assess the static-media hypothesis as presented by Mayer, Hegarty, Mayer and Campbell (2005) and show the relative benefits of static computer text compared to dynamic media containing narrated animation. The practical goal of the research is to isolate the features of multimedia learning that must be in place in order to maximize meaningful distance learning. It is not enough to embrace a new technology; one must understand what features of it make it work.

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