Academic journal article Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia

The Effect of Audio and Animation in Multimedia Instruction

Academic journal article Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia

The Effect of Audio and Animation in Multimedia Instruction

Article excerpt

        This study investigated the effects of audio, animation, and
        spatial ability in a multimedia computer program for high school
        biology. Participants completed a multimedia program that
        presented content by way of text or audio with lean text. In
        addition, several instructional sequences were presented either
        with static illustrations or animations. The study examined the
        effects of instructional mode (text vs. audio), illustration
        mode (static illustration vs. animation), and spatial ability
        (low vs. high) on practice and posttest achievement, attitude
        and time. Results indicated that spatial ability was
        significantly related to practice achievement and attitude.
        Participants with high spatial ability performed better on the
        practice items than those with low spatial ability. Participants
        with low spatial ability responded more positively than those
        with high spatial ability to attitude items concerning
        concentration, interest, and amount of invested mental effort.
        Findings also revealed that participants who received animation
        spent significantly more time on the program than those who
        received static illustrations. Implications for the design of
        multimedia are discussed.


Computer-based instruction (CBI) containing multimedia is increasingly being used as an adjunct to traditional classroom instruction. Advances in CBI and web-based technology make it possible for a designer to include features such as full color, illustrations, audio, animation, and video. However, little research exists to support the notion that adding multimedia features to instruction improves learning and performance. The current study investigated the impact of using two multimedia features--audio and animation--on learning from CBI.

Audio has usually been added to CBI as an afterthought to gain attention and increase motivation with sound effects, musical interludes, and congratulatory phrases. When audio has been added as voiced material, it has often occurred as redundant reading of screen text. Little research has been conducted to provide the instructional designer with guidelines for incorporating audio into CBI to promote learning. When guidelines do exist, they are frequently general and not always based on research (Barron, 1995). Indeed, little research exists to support the notion that adding audio to CBI can improve learning.

Most early research on audio focused on the use of redundant audio (i.e., a voice reading word for word the text that is printed on a page or displayed visually). Hartman (1961) summarized and evaluated early audiovisual studies that looked at audio-print and print only presentation for instruction. He concluded that redundant audio-print instruction was more effective than either audio or print alone. In Hartman's review, most of the studies with positive effects for redundant audio involved grade school children. Hartman himself suggested that the limited reading skills of the children in the studies might have produced the audio-print superiority results. Research findings since Hartman's review are contradictory with some studies indicating that text plus audio is more effective than either alone (Enerson & Tumey, 1984; Hartman, 1961; Lauret, 1998; Menne & Menne, 1972; Nasser & McEwen, 1976). Other studies have found no advantage for audio-print over print alone (Barron & Atkins, 1994; Barron & Kysilka, 1993; Barron & Dwyer, 1987; Furnham, Gunter, & Green, 1990; Koroghlanian & Sullivan, 2000; Nugent, 1982; Rehaag & Szabo, 1995; Shih & Alessi, 1996; Van Mondfrans & Travers, 1964).

These contradictory results can be explained by Paivio's dual coding theory, which proposed that two separate systems are involved in cognition, one for verbal information and another for image formation (Paivio, 1986). …

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