The effects of computer animation and cognitive style on the understanding and retention of scientific explanation

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Virginia Tech

Advances in computer technology have made it possible for educators to develop their own multimedia instructional materials using visuals such as animation. Despite the increased use of animation in the multimedia instructional materials, there is still relatively little research regarding the way in which students benefit from the attributes of computer animation. As a result, additional studies on the instructional attributes of animation are required to confirm the animation effect in the learning process.

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of animation in the enhancement of the problem-solving and retention of scientific concepts in computer based modules across learners possessing different cognitive styles. In this study, 121 undergraduate and graduate students were classified as field-independent, field-neutral, or field-dependent as a result of their performance on the Group Embedded Figures Test. Participants were randomly assigned to either animation and narration treatment group (N=61) or static visual and narration treatment group (N=60). Problem-solving and recall tests were conducted immediately after the completion of each treatment. Participants receiving an animation treatment performed significantly better than those receiving a static visual treatment on problem-solving but not on recall. Field-dependent students in the animation group generated approximately 40% more correct solutions to the problem-solving test than those in the static visual group. The results of this study indicate that animation may be an effective tool in promoting problemsolving of scientific concepts, especially for field-dependent learners who have difficulty acquiring and processing visual information.

Animation, Cognitive-Style, Multimedia-Instruction, Science-Instruction