The Effects of Adding Audio Instructions to a Multimedia Computer Based Training Environment

Article excerpt

Technological development has provided for new methods of instruction. Specifically, the audio component of multimedia can be used to bring sound, speech, and music to computer applications where the learner engages in interactive teaming. Costs of hardware have been significantly reduced to provide many more authors of multimedia instruction this capability. However, there is not a significant amount of quantitative study on the why, when, and where audio should or should not be used. In this study, the authors investigated the effects of adding an audio instruction component to an existing multimedia computer lab exercise containing text and graphics. The experiment was conducted at a Midwestern University with students enrolled in the undergraduate course, Structured Problem Solving Using the Computer. Students in the treatment group were asked to listen to audio instruction in addition to using a laboratory manual to complete an exercise.

Treatment and control group participants were administered a pre-test during the lecture before their assigned lab period and post-test during the lecture period immediately following the data collection week. Treatment groups also were asked to provide feedback as to the their likes and dislikes of the newly added media. Data were analyzed using Analysis of Covariance (ANOVA). Major findings of this study are listed as follows:

1. There were no significant differences in the performance among students who received audio instructions and students who did not.

2. There were no significant differences in the attitudes and perceptions of students who received audio instruction and students who did not.

3. There were no significant differences in the performance between males and females.

4. There were no significant differences in the performance among students in different age groups.

Learning is achieved by different methods and styles. Throughout the years, many different combinations of teaching methods and styles have been used to create and deliver instruction that would accommodate the different learning styles of people. Instructional designers have developed methods which are delivered in a variety of ways ranging from classroom lecture-style instruction to individual self-paced learning.

The appearance of the personal computer empowered instructional designers to create Computer Based Training (CBT). CBT can be used to develop interactive instruction between the student and the computer. The use of more than one media, multimedia, where the user participates in the learning is an example of an interactive instructional technique. To qualify as multimedia, a program must contain at least two of the following components: text, graphic art, sound, animation, and video. It must also be delivered by a computer or some electronic means (Gretes & Green, 1994).

Prior to computer technology, many studies concluded that multiple senses engaged the learner to the extent that a person remembers 20% of what they see, 40% of that they see and hear, and 70% of what they see, hear and do (Geisman, 1988). Multimedia and computer technologies have combined to give educators and trainers new possibilities in teaching styles to match the varied learning styles of individual students and engage them in multiple sensory activities. However, should developers embrace all the newest technological advances just because they can? The choice to employ such technologies should be made on the basis of qualitative increases in the learning experience as a result of the applied technology. A combination of quantitative results, attitudes, and perceptions from students should all be studied. Decisions should not be based solely on the use of technology just for the sake of being able to use such technologies.

A team of instructors at a Midwestern University was interested in how instructional multimedia CBT techniques could improve instruction and increase learning in one of the program's core undergraduate courses. …