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Mayer and Multimedia Learning

July 8, 2016


Richard Mayer is a rockstar of educational psychology who has spent decades researching connections between visual media on learning. On the way to receiving several career achievement awards, Mayer formulated a Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning that is based on three assumptions:

Dual channels Our brains physically process visual and auditory material through different channels.
Limited capacity Each channel can only handle a few pieces of information actively at one time (cognitive load).
Active processing Learning occurs when we select relevant information, organize it into a coherent structure, and integrate it with what we already know. Learners receive auditory information through voices and other sounds, as well as visual material in the form of images and words. Instructors should use both, designing learning experiences that are consistent with the way our brains work.
Mayer Model

Mayer has extensive research to back up this theory. His principles for effective media design help learners focus on relevant material, move it to working memory, and then integrate it with prior knowledge. Here are four of the principles:

  • The Signaling principle encourages us to highlight essential material using bold text, color, headings, arrows, etc.
  • The Redundancy principle says we should NOT add on-screen text to a narrated animation.
  • The Pre-training principle says we should give learners a head start on the names, locations, and characteristics of key components before getting to the details.
  • The Personalization principle urges us to present words in a conversational(rather than formal) style.

So what?

You can put Mayer’s principles into practice when you develop your next presentation. In this video, Nathan Cashion uses the pre-training and coherence principles to remake a slide.

This video by Sarah Martin shows how the Signaling principle can be used

Additional resources

[Image credit: “brain” by Abhijit Bhaduri]

2 Comments leave one →
  1. July 11, 2016 3:17 pm

    Thank you for sharing! Great videos!

  2. Laurie McGowan permalink
    July 8, 2016 1:48 pm

    I’m a Mayer fan from way back when. Thanks for sharing this.

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