Academic journal article NACTA Journal

A Test of the Cue Summation Theory on Student Post-Test and Satisfaction in an Electronically-Delivered Unit of Instruction

Academic journal article NACTA Journal

A Test of the Cue Summation Theory on Student Post-Test and Satisfaction in an Electronically-Delivered Unit of Instruction

Article excerpt


The development of electronic curriculum materials holds great promise and rewards for both educators and learners alike, but little research has been conducted to determine the effectiveness of incorporating multimedia components within an electronically-delivered unit of instruction. This research tested the theory of cue-summation (multiple cues across multiple channels) in a high school agricultural education setting and measured the effectiveness of the instruction and satisfaction level of the student. Curriculum materials were created and placed on compact disks (CD-ROM) for asynchronous delivery capability. Materials comprised a week-long unit of instruction on milk processing and were developed in three treatments; text-only materials, text and an audio/video component, and audio/video and still images. These three treatments represented single cue, redundancy, and cue summation, respectively. One-hundred and five high school agriculture education students participated in the study. Instrumentation used included a pretest/post-test for cognition as well as researcherdeveloped satisfaction and demographic instruments. The researchers found that students in treatments containing audio/video components scored significantly higher on the post-test than students who received text-only. Redundancy and cue-summation produced statistically similar posttest scores; however, students in the cue summation treatment group reported significantly higher satisfaction scores than students in the redundant condition group.


In the ever-changing world of education, trends, and innovations seem to come and go as often as classes of students. Teachers have little time to adopt new instructional techniques and curriculum before they are outdated and replaced with the "next big thing." In this fluid environment, one innovation seems to have the potential to become not only a common educational instrument, but one that holds great promise for the future of education. Distance education is not a new concept. The origins of this methodology can be traced back to correspondence courses, the so-called "home-study," first formalized by the Chautauqua Institute in 1883 (Moore and Kearsley, 1996).

With the rise of the Internet, educational institutions now have the ability to not only transfer textbased materials, similar to the original correspondence courses, but to provide the student with hypertext, audio, video, interactive chat, and many other methods of instructional delivery. The teacher has now become a facilitator with the responsibility of collecting and disseminating information to the students in the most effective manner. Selecting a mode of delivery has become as important as the content.

For many facilitators, adequately learning and applying the knowledge needed to incorporate multimedia aspects into a distance-delivered course remains difficult. Computer programs, hardware, video cameras, microphones, and web-servers all play major roles in adding multimedia to a distance course. If facilitators at the secondary and post-secondary level are expected to invest a great deal of time and expense into producing a distance course, they should expect that their efforts will result in an increase in learning and retention by the student when compared to the traditional, text-only version.

Theoretical Framework

This research was based on two theories of cognitive psychology. The overall theory was the theory of information processing. This theory focuses on how the human memory system acquires, transforms, compacts, elaborates, encodes, retrieves, and uses information. The model divides the memory system into three main storage structures: sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory. Each structure is synonymous with a type of processing (Burton et al., 1995).

In the first type of memory, sensory memory, input is accepted primarily through sight and sound and is processed within three to five seconds. …

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