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When Graphics Lower Learning

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When Graphics Lower Learning

Using appropriate graphics in learning content is critical. Some graphics are especially helpful for learning. But others can damage learning, as evidenced by research on graphics that contain interesting but irrelevant information.

Instructive, Seductive, and Decorative Graphics

Richard Mayer’s cognitive theory of multimedia learning (2005) discusses how we process different types of information, the limits to our processing capabilities, and the principles for designing multimedia that make it easier to learn from. One is the multimedia principle, which states: "People learn better from words and pictures than from words alone" (Mayer, 2009).

Significant research shows that when we present words with relevant graphics, people can make connections between the words and the graphics that improve understanding and use. "Graphics" means still graphics such as photographs, illustrations, diagrams, charts, and motion graphics such as animation and video.

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