Typically, guidelines for design of interactive multimedia systems have been based on intuitive beliefs of designers rather than being founded on relevant research and theory. As advances in technology create new opportunities for education, it is important to use a range of theoretical perspectives to optimize use of new technology in teaching and learning. This article explores behaviorist and cognitive approaches to interactive multimedia instructional design (ID). Basic concepts, characteristics of ID, and comparisons between each are discussed. Interface design guidelines for learning with multimedia are presented, which link theory with practice in effective multimedia ID. Universal Design for Learning is described, which sheds light on future research in ID to accommodate the diversity of learners.
Major conclusions include that no one theoretical foundation exists for ID practice that is suitable for all applications. Dick and Carey's behaviorist model, Willis' constructivist model, Reigeluth's Elaboration Theory, Keller's ARCS model, Merrill's Instructional Transaction Theory, and Gagne's learning hierarchy illustrate the abundance of theoretical frameworks to assist designers in decision making. Theories continually evolve or are revised as a result of research or critique by designers or theorists in the field. In the long term a blending of behaviorist and cognitive approaches seems inevitable.
Behaviorism and cognitivism are the two dominant theoretical positions in the field of learning with interactive courseware (Jonassen, 1991; Atkins, 1993; Hannafin, Hannafin, Hooper, Rieber, & Kini, 1996). Developments in design of such materials appear to have followed shifts in the dominant paradigms within psychology. Early computer-based materials are seen to be influenced by behaviorist concepts while discovery learning materials are felt to be founded on later cognitive models of information processing and constructivism. The increase in cognitive approaches in the 1980s may be due as much to technology developments in object-oriented programming, hypermedia, and interactive video as to the rise within psychology of cognitive theorists (Atkins, 1993).
Designers are adopting a mixed approach to design because it offers complete flexibility (Atkins, 1993). For example, some business and industry designers reveal a blending of analysis and evaluation of the objectivist approach with simulations and individualized progress of constructivist approaches (Dick, 1996). Typically, however, guidelines for design of interactive multimedia systems have been based on intuitive beliefs of designers rather than being founded on relevant psychological, pedagogical, and technological research and theory (Hannafin & Hooper, 1989; Park & Hannafin, 1993; Spiro, Feltovich, Jacobson, & Coulson, 1991).
Intuition and creativity have played major roles in the development and implementation of constructivist learning environments (Dick, 1997) for a reason. Until the appearance of the Recursive and Reflective, Design and Development (R2D2) model by Willis (1995), there had been almost no articles detailing explicit alternatives to the Dick and Carey objectivist model to help designers create instructional materials based on constructivist theory. The Dick and Carey model, which is in its fifth edition (Dick, Carey, & Carey, 2001), has been the leading behavioral instructional systems design model (Willis, 1995; Willis & Wright, 2000) since it became public in 1968.
Park and Hannafin (1993) indicated that the psychological foundation, in general, focuses on how learners think, learn, and process information and is largely media-independent. This foundation is based on research and theory on meaningful learning, schema theory, prior knowledge, hierarchical cognitive structure, elaboration, depth of processing, generative learning, situated learning, conceptual models and metaphors, and dual coding theory. The pedagogical foundation is based on research, theories of instruction, and teaching strategies, which include Gagne's work in learning hierarchies, elaboration theory, structural cueing, use of advance organizers, and anchored instruction. The technological foundation addresses the potential of technology to redefine teaching and learning, the capabilities of specific multimedia technologies, and the capabilities and limitations of interactive multimedia technology.
As advances in technology offer new opportunities for learning, it is important to use a range of theoretical perspectives to optimize use of new technologies in teaching and learning (Wild & Quinn, 1998). This article explores behaviorist and cognitive approaches to interactive multimedia instructional design (ID) and delves into the foundations noted by Park and Hannafin (1993). Basic concepts of each approach, characteristics of ID, and similarities and differences between each will be discussed. Interface design guidelines for learning with multimedia will be presented, which link theory with practice in effective multimedia ID. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is described, which sheds light on future research in ID to accommodate the diversity of learners.
The legacy of educational technology has been behaviorism (Wian & Snyder, 1996), the roots of which lie in studies of observable behavior that were prevalent in the early 20th century (Atkins, 1993). Although instructional systems technology began rejecting many behaviorist assumptions in the 1980s in favor of the cognitivist view (Jonassen, 1991), the theory is the basis for innovations such as computer assisted instruction, mastery learning, minimal competency testing, educational accountability, situated cognition, and even social constructivism. The primary tenet of behaviorism is that there is a predictable and reliable link between a stimulus and the response it produces. If behavior is predictable, designers need to identify subskills students must master that lead to a learned behavior, and then select stimuli and presentation strategies that build the subskills. Designers assume that an instructional strategy that has had a certain effect in the past will do so again (Burton, Moore, & Magliano, 1996 ).
A major assumption is that learners are not just passive entities who react to environmental stimuli. Learners learn by doing, experiencing, and engaging in trial and error. What has been learned, under what conditions, and the consequences that support or maintain the learned behavior all work together, and must be observable and measurable. A second assumption of behaviorism is that learning is a change in behavior due to experience and a function of building associations between the occasion on which the behavior occurs (stimulus event) and the behavior itself (response event). Repeated continuous pairing of the stimulus with the response strengthens learning. To change behavior in an educational setting, learners must be assessed for their needs and capabilities so that instruction is appropriate and meaningful. Observable goals can then be written. Learning tasks are ordered logically according to a hierarchy. Learners' performance of tasks is measured against objective criteria for mastery and correctn ess. Reinforcement, which is contingent on successful achievement at each stage, maintains previously learned behaviors (Burton et al., 1996).
Atkins (1993) noted behaviorist ID characteristics with respect to subject matter, sequencing, learner control, and learning. Those are described in the following sections.
Material is broken down into small, logically discrete instructional steps and is often presented as a rule, category, principle, formula, or definition. Positive examples are given to reinforce understanding, followed by negative examples to establish conceptual boundaries.
Sequencing and Learner Control
Designers write sequences of prespecified formal instructions with conditional or unconditional branching to later/earlier parts of the program and specify branching choices at predetermined points in the program. Activities are sequenced for increasing difficulty or complexity. The sequence and pacing through the material is usually without learner control. To maximize learning efficiency, learners may be routed to miss or repeat certain sections of material based on performance on a diagnostic test, or on tests within the sequence of learning activities. The amount of practice or revision they require may also vary based on performance.
The required operation, procedure, or skill is demonstrated and broken down into its parts with appropriate explanation before learners are expected to copy the desired behavior. Performance standards are made explicit. Learners build proficiency from frequent review or revision with check tests at strategic points or repeat practice with feedback. Design emphasizes low error rate and use of remedial loops back through material, if learner test performance seems to warrant it. Extrinsic or intrinsic reinforcement messages are used to maintain motivation.
Atkins (1993) concluded that a structured, deductive approach to design multimedia applications can lead to rapid acquisition of basic concepts, skills, and factual information within a clear framework. The effectiveness of behavioral design approaches for higher-order learning tasks or for transfer of learning is yet unproven, however.
Theories on how people learn include cognitive, social psychological, and interactionist or experimental perspectives (Wild & Quinn, 1998). The diversity is often grouped into two trends: the individual cognitive and the sociocultural. The individual cognitive trend, derived from Piaget's theory, emphasizes the constructivist activity of individuals as they try to make sense of the world. The sociocultural trend emphasizes the socially and culturally situated context of cognition as expressed by Vygotsky (Duffy & Cunningham, 1996). "Concepts in cognitive psychology became meaningful when the …