Dual code and Multimedia

Educational psychology is an area of research that has too seldom been put into educational practice. This module focuses on the discrepancies between principles of psychology and education. It is startling that there are many approaches due to research in the psychological field, but what is missing is to apply these principles and ideas of improving education in the field. The efficacy and effectiveness of these principles has to be proved by evidence from randomized controlled studies and meta-analyses. As Nora S. Newcombe in her article Biology is to medicine as psychology is to education: true or false? (2002) lines out there can be drawn an analogy to the field of medicine. Thereafter psychology should be forming a basis for any educational profession. Therapies in medicine are distinguished because of the evidence based proof. The same should be applied to the field of education, different pedagogical steps need to be investigated on their effectiveness in the natural field. Newcombe draws more implications from this analogy that I won´t mention here now. So, I think the problem that I have outlined is quite clear.

Right now I am again “victim” of the misleading and conservative way how education works. Besides my studies here in Wales I still need to take several exams from Germany that form part of the first semester over there. These count 100 % for my grade in the associated lectures. Students, me included, tend to postpone preparation for the exams. In the end they study full days for these exams, only to forget most of the theories, dates and concepts a couple of weeks later. The professors, even more incomprehensible to me, ask questions about dates and percentages of e.g. clinical disorders, or for the diagnosis criteria of the ICD (International Classification Diagnosis) and the DSM (Diagnostical and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) that you can later in your profession look up and you do not need to remember word by word. This example shows that especially in a German University there is a lot of change to be done, because how can I possibly learn much from just reciting the lecture notes? How can I store knowledge on a long term basis without forgetting it right after an exam? These are questions that I want to deal with in the next few months.

One principle of psychology postulates that Dual Codes and Multimedia have a positive impact on learning outcome. It is based on the content-addressable memory (CAM) which states that there are distributed representations in the cortex about an event or a thought etc. These representations have connections to the hippocampus (Pagiamatzis & Sheikoleslami, 2006). A certain cue as an access signal activates some of the representations of the memory track, which in their ways send the information to the hippocampus, where due to the different connections the other representations become activated. This leads to complete memory access. The dual coding approach of mental representations says that memory can be stored propositional (verbal content) and analogue (pictorial content). Paivio postulated in his theory of dual coding in 1986 that content is better to be remembered when it is represented both verbally and pictorial.

The cognitive theory of multimedia learning (CTML) from Mayer and Moreno (2003) has three assumptions on learning:

1) dual channeling meaning to combine verbal and nonverbal materials to strengthen encoding ability in remembering tasks. The information of the two coding systems should not be redundant, but rather be integrated to avoid splitting the attention.

2) active processing based on the interactivity hypothesis, thereby engaging by organizing and elaborating learning material

à link to the level of processing theory (Craik & Lockhart 1972)

3) limited capacity taking into account the cognitive load effects of multiple representations and interactive environments which can prompt cognitive overload.

The study titled “Cognitive Load and Learning Effects of Having Students Organize Pictures and Words in Multimedia Environments: The Role of Student Interactivity and Feedback” from Moreno and Valdez (2005) deals with this theory and seeks to extend the research done on learning in multimedia environments and addressing the role of dual channeling and interactivity. In the paper “meaningful learning” is defined by three stages of active processing: 1. Information selection, 2. Organization in coherent representations and 3. Integration into existing knowledge. This is the theoretical basis to investigate the germane load by interactive processes, meaning the effort that is invested to understand instructional materials.

In three experiments Moreno and Valdez found out that dual coding by working with words and pictures to remember the process of lightning formation leads to higher retention rates, better memory and lower levels of mental effort, thereby promoting a higher instructional efficiency. Therefore material in multimedia settings should be multimodal to support better learning.

The interactivity hypothesis was not supported by the studies and lack of time in engaging by system-based time conditions was not the reason people were not engaging more into interactive processes (Experiment 2). Interactive processes were achieved by putting frames of the process that had to be learned into a mixed-up sequence and making it necessary to organize material.

In a third experiment Moreno and Valdez hypothesized that immediate feedback that was given after each frame could lead to tendencies of trial-and-error rather than deeper processing. When the student was able to himself decide to receive feedback after self-evaluation, deeper learning was promoted. This underlines the importance of using techniques that motivate self-evaluation and therefore also increasing the learning outcome.

In educational settings the teacher should use these techniques to improve the effectiveness of his classes.

Craik, F.I., Lockhart, R. S. (1972). Levels of processing: A framework for Memory Research. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behaviour, 11, 671-684.

Mayer, R. E., Moreno, R. (2003). Nine ways to reduce cognitive load in multimedia learning. Educational Psychologist, 38, 43–52.

Moreno, R., Valdez, A. (2005). Cognitive Load and Learning Effects of Having Students Organize Pictures and Words in Multimedia Environments: The Role of Student Interactivity and Feedback. ETR&D, 53, 35–45.

Newcombe, N. S. (2002). Biology is to medicine as psychology is to education: true or false? New Directions for Teaching and Learnin,. 89, 9-18.

Pagiamatzis, K., Sheikholeslami, A. (2006). Content-Addressable Memory (CAM) Circuits and Architectures: A Tutorial and Survey. IEEE JOURNAL OF SOLID-STATE CIRCUITS, 41, 712-727.

Paivio, A. (1986). Mental representations: A dual coding approach. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

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