Does multimedia theory apply to all students? The impact of multimedia presentations on science learning

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In K-12 school settings in the United States, there is a preponderance of information delivered via multimedia to students everyday (e.g., visual aids found in science textbooks, electronic tablets, streamed video content, web pages, animations, and PowerPoint presentations). The cognitive theory of multimedia learning (CTML) outlines numerous principles associated with learning from and with multimedia (Mayer, Hegarty, Mayer, & Cambell, 2005). However, the bulk of the research like the CTML has been conducted using college age students (Jones, 2010; McTigue, 2009). There is ample evidence that college age students and younger students exhibit numerous and important differences when learning from multimedia content (Hannus & Hyona, 1999; McTique, 2009; Moreno, 2007; Van Parreren, 1983). As a result, the objective of the current study is to examine the influence of multimedia presentations that leverage motion (present or absent) in conjunction with signaling cues (present or absent) on high school students’ ability to learn science concepts. Using a 2x2 experimental design, 99 high school participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions. Results of indicated statistical significance all participants over time for a knowledge measure and quality of concepts from a concept mapping task. Implications for multimedia learning theory on younger students are examined.