Academic journal article Global Perspectives on Accounting Education

The Effect of Powerpoint Presentations on Student Learning and Attitudes

Academic journal article Global Perspectives on Accounting Education

The Effect of Powerpoint Presentations on Student Learning and Attitudes

Article excerpt


In recent years, the uses of PowerPoint (a form of multimedia) presentations in classroom instruction have significantly increased globally without examination of their effects on student learning and attitudes. In this study, we test whether using PowerPoint in an accounting course enhances student short-term memory, long-term memory, and attitudes toward class presentation and the instructor. We conducted an experiment, which includes a treatment-control design, in a classroom setting throughout a semester. In one section of an accounting principles II (Managerial Accounting) course, PowerPoint was used as the delivery system, while the second section was taught using a traditional delivery system. The results show that PowerPoint presentation may improve student attitudes toward the instructor and class presentation. The results do not provide conclusive evidence that PowerPoint presentations improve short-term or long-term memory. The latter results are consistent with other media comparison studies that show the medium alone does not influence learning.

Key words: PowerPoint, learning, attitudes, short-term memory, long-term memory, representational style, dual-coding theory

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This study investigates whether PowerPoint presentations (a form of multimedia) improve student learning and attitudes compared with traditional classroom presentations. While the use of PowerPoint and multimedia in the classroom has significantly increased globally in recent years (Connor and Wong, 2004; Bartsch and Cobern, 2003), few studies have systematically investigated its impact on student learning and attitudes. Rebele et al. (1998) note that little research exists regarding integration of technology in the accounting curriculum, and suggest that accounting researchers should examine whether technology improves learning. Further, Rebele et al. (1998) recommend "accounting researchers should explore how educational technology can contribute to the continuing evolution and improvement of accounting education" (p. 207).

One study that has examined the relationship between multimedia and student learning and attitudes was conducted by Butler and Mautz (1996). In a laboratory experiment conducted during a 30-minute time period, they found that multimedia did not affect student recall in all situations. Butler and Mautz did find an interaction between the effects of the multimedia presentation and the student's preferred class representation style (i.e., whether the student was considered a "verbal" or "imaginal" learner).

The present study extends Butler and Mautz (1996) in two ways. First, it examines the effect of using PowerPoint presentations throughout a semester on both short-term and long-term memory. While both Butler and Mautz (1996) and this study examine the effect of multimedia and/or PowerPoint presentations on students' learning, the former study only focuses on short-term memory. Second, this study investigates the generalizability of Butler and Mautz's (1996) findings by conducting the research in a classroom setting. While generalizability comes at the cost of experimental control, researchers are invariably interested in whether laboratory results will extend outside the controlled laboratory environment.

The current study finds that students who received instruction via PowerPoint did not (on average) perform better on quizzes or exams. However, the results of our study show that the effect of PowerPoint on short-term memory might depend on other factors such as the topic under discussion and the students' preferred representation style. For example, for more difficult and challenging chapters, students with higher use of imagery performed better on quizzes in the PowerPoint section than did students in the traditional section. This could be of interest to educators since it suggests that for more difficult and challenging chapters, the use of PowerPoint could be beneficial. …

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