Animations Need Narrations (Mayer & Anderson)

Mayer, R.E., & Anderson, B. (1991). Animations Need Narrations: An Experimental Test of a Dual-coding Hypothesis. Journal of Educational Psychology, 3, 484-490.

In this article, the authors conducted two experiments to test a dual-code model (adapted from Paivio’s dual-coding theory) that attempts to describe how one uses words and pictures to build mental representations. Their findings have important implications concerning the use of animation in instructional environments, namely that, in order for a narration to be instructionally effective, narration must accompany the animation in a meaningful (i.e., coordinated and synced) way.

The first experiment involved comparing the effects of viewing an animated explanation of how a bicycle tire pump works. In condition 1, audio and video were in sync; in condition 2, the audio preceded the video. 30 college students participated; after viewing, they were given a problem-solving transfer test. As predicted by the model, students in condition 1 (M=.55, SD=.20) performed better (produced more creative solutions) than students in condition 2 (M=.38, SD=.17), t(28)=2.46, p<.02.

In the second experiment, the conditions were replicated, 24 college students participated, and a verbal recall test and problem solving test was administered. Again, the results of the problem-solving test were similar to those in the previous experiment. In terms of the recall test, the authors predicted that there would be no change in performance, because verbal recall is simply dependent on verbal representation connections. The findings of experiment indicate that students in condition 1 (M=.67, SD=.22) and condition 2 (M=.77, SD=.23) did not differ significantly, t(22)=.631, p>.20. In summary, the groups were equivalent in the recall of verbal information (i.e., had formed equivalent representational connections), but the second condition group (words-with-pictures) showed superior creative problem solving performance, indicating that this group possessed more referential connections between verbal and visual representations.

A follow-up to the second experiment was performed to isolate the effects of words and pictures on building representational and referential connections. Four conditions were compared: words-with-pictures, words only, pictures only, and control. 48 college students participated and a recall test and problem solving tests was administered. Results indicated that, as predicted, the words-with-pictures group performed significantly better than the other groups on the problem-solving test. In terms of the recall test, the words-with-pictures group and the words-only groups did significantly better than the control, but the pictures-only group did not differ from the other groups. So this research question must be investigated further in order to arrive at conclusive results.

Integrated dual-code hypothesis, adapted from Paivio’s dual-coding theory.

Component 1: building representational components between verbally presented information and a verbal representation.

Component 2: building representational components between visually presented information and a visual representation.

Component 3: building referential connections between elements in the verbal and visual representations.

*Recall tests used to evaluate acquisition of the to-be-learned info (components 1 & 2). Problem-solving transfer tests used to evaluate construction of connections among acquired info (component 3).


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