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Hello, LSW readers! We have research for you -- let’s dive in.

Don’t Speak

We’ve talked about Mayer’s Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning before, which states that learning is optimal when the visual and auditory channels in working memory are used to a similar extent. However, when the exact same information is provided in two modalities at the same time, this can impair or prevent learning; this is called the redundancy effect (Mayer, Heiser, & Lonn, 2001).

In educational contexts, learners are often provided with narrated content (in theory, to compensate for any reading-related disorders, like dyslexia). But is this effective for learning? In a recent study conducted in the Netherlands, researchers found that adding narration to on-screen text actually hindered learning for participants.

Practical Implication: Practitioners should make learners aware that audio may support poor reading skills, but can also negatively impact deep learning and study effectiveness. According to these researchers, adding narration to passages should be a choice and “audio off” should be the default for learners.

Read More (open access): Knoop-van Campen, C.A.N., Segars, E., & Verhoven, L. (2020). Effects of audio support on multimedia learning processes and outcomes in students with dyslexia. Computers & Education, 150.

The Voice Effect

The voice effect suggests that learners will perform better if e-learning presentations are narrated in a standard accent rather than a foreign accent (Mayer, Sobko, & Mautone, 2003). Also: human voices are preferred over those robotic, computer-synthesized voices.

I Know Just What You’re Saying

In a study that examined the interaction between the redundancy effect and the voice effect in the context of animated PowerPoint presentations with native and foreign-accented narrations, researchers discovered that a redundancy effect was not observed when narration was foreign-accented. Instead, having access to the full on-screen text actually resulted in better retention than when learners had access to no text or text that merely summarized what was spoken.

Practical Implication: If you have a heavy accent, the redundancy effect doesn’t necessarily apply. You can provide the full text to your learners to help them follow along with your e-learning module or presentation.

Read More: Chan, K.Y., Lyons, C., Kon, L.L., Stine, K., Manley, M., & Crossley, A. (2020). Effect of on-screen text on multimedia learning with native and foreign-accented narration. Learning and Instruction, 67.

See You There!

We’ll be hanging out at CEdMA’s virtual CONNECT conference September 22-23, 2020. Dubbed “the premier event for education professionals at technology companies,” this conference promises to be a “dynamic and engaging event where you will be learning from and sharing your knowledge with others in the customer education space.” Registration is free.

Renato is an educator and research fellow at the Transformative Learning Technologies Lab, run by professor Paulo Blikstein at Teachers College Columbia University. He recently graduated from Stanford University's Learning, Design, and Technology Master's program and is currently working on eqode, which addresses the issue of equity in technology education. eqode is a curriculum framework for equitable technology education, and its purpose is to support teachers working with low-income, marginalized high school students who are now learning remotely. eqode's project-based lessons lead students to express their own identities and values by designing new digital tools.‍

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Learning Science Weekly is edited by Julia Huprich, Ph.D. Our head of growth and community is Julieta Cygiel.

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