Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge and Management

The Effect of Static Visual Instruction on Students' Online Learning: A Pilot Study

Academic journal article Interdisciplinary Journal of Information, Knowledge and Management

The Effect of Static Visual Instruction on Students' Online Learning: A Pilot Study

Article excerpt


Since human beings are visually oriented (Norman, 2004), visual instruction is regard as one of effective learning strategies in different learning environments (Dwyer, 1978, 2007). Reviewing existing literature regarding visual instruction indicates that past studies tended to use multimedia programs, such as Flash software, to design animated visual instruction and ignored the benefits of static visual instruction. A major problem is that the number of studies between static and animated visual instruction is imbalanced.

According to Lin and Dwyer's (2004) study, static and animated visual instruction can with equal effectiveness significantly support student learning. In other words, the effect of static and animated visual instruction on student learning is the same. Therefore, from a cost-effective perspective, whether or not low-cost static visual instruction can replace the role of high-cost animated visual instruction is worthy of exploration.

The current study developed two types of static visual instructions to enhance students' cognitive abilities in an online learning environment. The design rationale of the static visual instructions bases on information process model. Undergraduate students are targeted groups. One randomized-based experimental study evaluates the instructional effectiveness of two static visual instructions. Specifically, the purpose of the study is to explore the effect of varied static visual instructions on students' online learning.

Theoretical Foundation

According to Atkinson and Shiffrin's (1968) model as illustrated in Figure 1, three important elements in the mind process the information learners receive: (a) sensory memory, (b) short-term memory, and (c) long-term memory. The concepts of the model are:

1. Sensory memory is the first stage of the model. The senses (e.g. vision, hearing, touch, taste, and smell) in the human body receive the information from the situated environment, and then information transmits to the sensory register in the brain. However, the sensory register only selects the attended information for further consideration. Without this process, the mind would be overwhelmed by too much encountered information.

2. Short-term memory temporarily records the information which passes through the sensory register. The short-term memory has limited size. According to Miller's (1956) study, short-term memory only can hold five to nine chunks. A chunk could refer to digits, words, chess positions, or people's faces. In addition, the information in short-term memory can be retained for only 5 to 20 seconds. If the information can not be transferred to long-term memory in this period of time, the information will be lost. In other words, received information will be forgotten in learners' minds.

3. Long-term memory receives meaningful information from short-term memory. In order to obtain meaningful information, the short-term memory links to prior knowledge already stored in long-term memory. The linking process, encoding information from short-term memory and retrieving information from long-term memory, does not always occur. Compared to short-term memory, long-term memory has limitless size and holds information indefinitely.


In this study, the static visual instruction serves as a powerful learning strategy (Dwyer, 2007) which aims to strength the linking process of information encoding and retrieving between short-term and long-term memory. A research assumption of the study is that varied types of static visual instructions may cause different effects on the linking process between short-term and long-term memory.


Research Participant

In an experimental study, at least twenty participants in each treatment group are required (Dwyer, 2006). Since this study involves three experimental treatments, the minimum number of participants is sixty. …

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