Contact FutureLearn for Support
Skip main navigation
We use cookies to give you a better experience, if that’s ok you can close this message and carry on browsing. For more info read our cookies policy.
We use cookies to give you a better experience. Carry on browsing if you're happy with this, or read our cookies policy for more information.

Some of the theory behind multimedia learning

Professor Richard Mayer, Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara is one of the key researchers in the use different media in E-Learning. This article provides a brief summary of some of the design principles for multimedia learning based on his research.

People learn in different ways some people find graphics and animations helpful others prefer written words or audio. What features help you to learn?

  • multimedia principle: People learn better from words and pictures than from words alone.
  • segmenting principle: People learn better when a multimedia lesson is presented in learner-paced segments rather than as a continuous unit.
  • pre-training principle: People learn better from a multimedia lesson when they know the names and characteristics of the main concepts.
  • modality principle: People learn better from animation and narration than from animation and on-screen text.
  • coherence principle: People learn better when extraneous words, pictures, and sounds are excluded rather than included.
  • redundancy principle: People learn better from animation and narration than from animation, narration, and on on-screen text
  • signaling principle: People learn better when the words include cues about the organization of the presentation.
  • spatial contiguity principle: People learn better when corresponding words and pictures are presented near rather than far from each other on the page or screen.
  • temporal contiguity principle: People learn better when corresponding words and pictures are presented simultaneously rather than successively.
  • personalization principle: People learn better when the words are in conversational style rather than formal style.
  • voice principle: People learn better when words are spoken in a standard-accented human voice than in a machine voice or foreign-accented human voice.
  • image principle: People do not necessarily learn better from a multimedia lesson when the speaker’s image is added to the screen.
  • individual differences principle: Design effects are stronger for low-knowledge learners than for high-knowledge learners. Design effects are stronger for high-spatial learners than for low-spatial learners.

Discussion point

  • Which of these principles do you think are important?

You may want to refer back to these principles when you start to design your own E-learning resource or you might recognise them in the designs we have used in some of the reusable learning objects.

References

Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2003). E-learning and the Science of Instruction. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Mayer, R. E. (Ed.). (2005). The Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning. New York: Cambridge University Press.

More on multimedia learning principles is available in the resource bank.

Share this article:

This article is from the free online course:

Designing E-Learning for Health

The University of Nottingham