iPedagogy: Using Multimedia Learning Theory to iDentify Best Practices for MP3 Player Use in Higher Education
This study was published in the Journal of Applied Communication Research in 2011.
The objective of this study was to test how manipulating the affordance of modality on an MP3 player might differentially impact learning, focusing on the iPod and its three modalities: audio, text, and video.
The authors of the study formulated three hypotheses:Click: Hypothesis 1 proposed that participants who processed information through multiple modes would perform better than participants who process information through only one mode.Click: Hypothesis 2 proposed that audio/video mode would yield the highest scores.Click: Two research questions evolved about “form factor.” Does screen size impact learning and does it influence students’ perceptions of instructor?Click: Hypothesis 3 proposed that students’ perceptions of the iPod would correlate to their intent to take courses that utilize this technology.
The literature review grounded the study in principles of two well-known theories.Click: In dual-coding theory, the dual-modality principle states that learning occurs through two distinct channels – verbal and visual. The referential processing principle states that learning is maximized when these dual channels are used simultaneously.Click: The multimedia principle of multimedia learning theory states that learning occurs best when words and images are combined, and the modality principle states that certain combinations improve performance.
Click: The study was conducted at a Midwestern university with 119 undergraduate students. 66 were female, 52 were male, and 1 did not respond. The average age was 19.5 and, interestingly, 96% owned at least one MP3 player. Click: The students were recruited in class and were offered course credit. The researchers assessed them using a three part measure. Part A and B were questionnaires about ACT scores, previous statistics experience, and perceptions of MP3 players. Part C was conducted after the experiment and measured student retention of information using the three modalities offered by the iPod.
To test the research questions about form factor, the study was conducted in a three by two factorial experiment. Three modalities were tested: audio only, audio/text, and audio/video. Two form factors were tested: a small iPod screen vs. a computer monitor that used iTunes. Students were randomly assigned to one of the three conditions and one of the two modes. They were instructed to listen to a lecture about basic statistics information that had been previously recorded with a video camera. The presentation was “plain” and PowerPoint slides illustrated only basic points and diagrams. Students in the audio only condition listened to the lecture as a podcast. Students in the audio/text condition listened to the podcast, but also read a scrolling transcript. Students in the audio/video condition viewed a video recording (or vodcast) of the lecture.
The findings reflect the theoretical framework. Click: Hypothesis 1 was supported. Student scores for multiple modalities were higher the audio only condition.Click: Hypothesis 2 was supported. Accuracy scores were as follows: Students in the audio only condition averaged 56%, students in the audio/text condition averaged a 60%, and students in the audio/video condition averaged a 71%. The form factor scores did not indicate a significant difference and therefore did not appear to impact learning. Click: Based on the measures of student responses in Part A and B, hypothesis 3 was supported. Perceptions influenced technology acceptance.
There are two important implications of this study. Click: Modality matters. Two modalities are better than one and learning occurs best when words and images are combined. Additionally, certain combinations are more effective – in this case the combination of audio and video.Click: Mode matters. The pairing of audio and video was most effective. Perhaps the most noteworthy statement of these accuracy scores is that “by most grading rubrics, the difference between a 56 and 60% and a 70% is the difference between failing and passing a class.” Though the most common form of MP3 use in the classroom is the podcast, audio only, these results indicate that the most effective practice is the use of vodcast, or combining audio and video.
In this study, there were several limitations that beg further research.Click: The study was conducted in a simulated learning environment. The lecture was not part of the real classroom. What happens in the real day-to-day classroom? What happens when other theoretical principles are tested? Click: The students in this study were fairly homogeneous. What happens when the audience is a captive secondary group and the learners are more diverse? The study also indicated that 96% of participants owned an MP3 player. What would the results be if the participants were not so familiar with this technology?Click: The study also ruled out the single modality as the least effective, but it only tested the audio version of that modality. How do visual and aural text differ as a single modality study? Which is a better use of the tool in a single modality – an eBook or an audiobook?Click: Additionally, the iPod is a fairly novel tool and the study was only a one-time lecture. What are the long-term effects once the “novelty” has worn off?
There are several important conclusions I take away from this article. Click: First, “both the modality and mode through which information is disseminated should be considered carefully when designing instructional materials for use inside or outside the classroom.”Click: Second, learning improves when two sensory channels are used and students scored best with the combination of audio and video; therefore, the use of vodcasts are more valuable than podcasts.Click: Last, form factor does not matter. iPods and computers are both effective content-dissemination tools, so schools that have already bought into one-to-one laptop initiatives can benefit from the findings here.
iPedagogy: Using Multimedia Learning Theory to iDentify Best Practices for MP3 Player Use in Higher Education Amy Carter EDET 780 Maymester 2011 Critique #1
Downs, Edward , Boyson, Aaron R. , Alley, Hannah and Bloom, Nikki R. (2011). iPedagogy: using multimedia learning theory to iDentifybest practices for MP3 player use in higher education.Journal of Applied Communication Research, 39: 2, 184-200. Retrieved May 11, 2011 DOI: 10.1080/00909882.2011.556137 URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00909882.2011.556137 Article
Study Objective “To test how manipulating the affordance of modality on an MP3 player might differentially impact learning”
Hypotheses H1: Multiple modes = better for information processing H2: Audio/video = best combination of modes RQ1: Does size of screen impact learning? RQ2: Does size of screen influence evaluation of instructor? H3: Student perception of iPod = intent to take courses that use the technology
Dual-modality: Learning occurs through two distinct channels – verbal and visual.
Referential Processing: Learning is maximized when channels are used simultaneously.
Multimedia Principle: Learning occurs best words and images are combined.
Modality Principle: Certain combinations improve performance.
Dual-coding Theory Multimedia Learning Theory
Participants and Procedure 119 undergraduate students 66 female; 52 male; 1 non-responder Average age = 19.5 96% owned at least one MP3 player Voluntary study for course credit Recruited from a class in communication Assessed in a 3-Part measure: control factors (ACT scores and previous experience), perceptions of iPods, retention of information
Findings H1: Supported Dual modalities better than single modality H2: Supported Audio only: 56% accuracy Audio/text: 60% accuracy Audio/video: 71% accuracy RQ1and RQ2: Form factor (size of screen) does not matter H3: Supported Perceptions influence technology acceptance
Implications Modality matters. Two are better than one. Findings are consistent with Multimedia Learning Theory. Mode matters. Pairing of audio and video showed the best outcome Podcast vs. Vodcast? Podcast = most common Vodcast = most effective
Limitations and Future Research Simulated learning environment What happens in the real day-to-day classroom? What happens when other theoretical principals are tested? Students What happens when learners are more diverse? Single modality How do visual and aural text differ as a single modality (eBook vs. audio book)? Long-term effects What are the effects of iPod use over time?
Conclusions “Both the modality and mode through which information is disseminated should be considered carefully when designing instructional materials for use inside or outside the classroom.” Learning improves when two sensory channels are used, and students scored best with the combination of audio and video; therefore, the use of vodcasts are more valuable than podcasts. Form factor does not matter. iPods and computers are both effective content-dissemination tools.