NSF-funded project to explore improvement of multimedia learning

by the College of Education at Illinois  /   Mar 16, 2017

Jennifer CromleyAssociate Professor Jennifer Cromley of the Department of Educational Psychology will lead a study funded by the National Science Foundation that will seek to improve the design, learning, and future research of multimedia learning.

The project, titled “Meta-Analysis to Support an Integrated Theory of Multimedia Learning,” will pull together trends across findings from more than 500 studies conducted with students studying math and science via multimedia instructional materials used in middle school through college.

As students are increasingly presented with math and science information in multiple media such as narrated animations or hyperlinked illustrated Web pages, Cromley said the project is important because new research is showing that popular design principles used by developers of educational media are too broad and don’t apply to all learners. A new model is needed, Cromley believes, that explains effective learning from multimedia as the joint and mutual action of stimulus characteristics, individual differences in learners, and varied learning tasks.

“A major contribution of this study would be moving from what is thought to work for all to what the recent research suggests works—and for whom—when learning with multimedia,” Cromley said.

According to Cromley, the project could potentially disseminate sound findings about learning with multimedia to broad audiences, including science and math teachers, postsecondary instructors, and discipline-based education researchers. Once completed, Cromley said the project will result in a book, articles, workshops, and a searchable website.

University of Texas at Austin faculty member S. Natasha Beretvas will be the co-principal investigator on the two-year study, which received $289,753 in funding.