Mayer`s principles for the design of 21st century multimedia

Mayer's principles for the design of 21st century multimedia learning
Daphne Tseng
Department of Learnig Technologies, University of North Texas
United States
Abstract: Richard E. Mayer proposed twelve principles of design an effective multimedia
learning decade ago. These principles were discussed, revised, replicated, and re-examined by
global researchers to adopt them to different learning situations. The goal of this session is to reexamine and update Mayer’s principles into 21st century multimedia learning design. In this
session, the presenter will share and discuss 1) briefly about Mayer's principles of multimedia
learning design; 2) current researches about multimedia learning design based on Mayer’s
principles, and 3) how to adopt these principles into multicultural and multigenerational learning
After Richard E. Mayer published his book “Multimedia learning”, his twelve multimedia learning design
principles are well discussed by the not only educational psychology field but also instructional design field. A longstanding debate exists surrounding what should and should not be included in multimedia learning design (Muller, et
al., 2008). Some of the principles provide a good guidance for instructional designers to design the products and
delivery the learning material with multimedia format; other principles remain the space for researcher and designer
to examine. For instance, the redundancy principle is revised by Mayer and Johnson (2008); the modality principle
is replicated with the same or different kind of learning materials (e.g. De Westelinck, et al., 2005; Mann, et al.,
2002; Tabbers, et al., 2004; Tabbers & Spoel, 2011; Witteman & Segers, 2010); the segmenting principle is
examined by Lusk et al. to emphasis the importance of individual difference variable would effects learning in a
multimedia instructional environment (2009); the coherence principle is noted that irrelevant information to a
multimedia treatment is not necessary, but it will maintain the attention from learner to promote the learning
effectiveness (Muller, et al., 2008).
Mayer’s twelve principles can be categorized by different intentions. First of all, the coherence, signaling,
redundancy, spatial and temporal principles are intended to reduce extraneous processing during learning (Mayer,
2009). Mayer claims that the coherence principle is based on the knowledge-construction view of learning, meaning
that eliminating interesting but irrelevant materials (e.g. words, image, sound, music) would assist learners learning
actively. However, the opposing viewpoint supports the idea that interest plays a key role in allocating limited
cognitive resources (Schank, 1979). To add seductive details into instruction could help to catch and hold learner’s
interest during instruction to improve retention (Mitchell, 1993). Thus, Muller et al (2008) reported that by adding
approximately 50% extra interesting but irrelevant information to a multimedia treatment did not result in lower
achievement on a post –test as would be predicted by the coherence principle. The additional interesting information
served a useful function, maintaining attention in the authentic learning setting employed in the experiment.
The redundancy principle was revised by Mayer and Johnson in 2008. Previous research has shown that
students learn better from multimedia lessons containing graphics and narration than from graphics, narration, and
on screen text (Moreno & Mayer, 2002). According to the cognitive theory of multimedia learning (Mayer, 2001),
because of meaningful learning occurs when learners are able to pay attention to relevant portions of the words and
graphics as they are registered in sensory memory. However, Mayer and Johnson found out that if the on screen text
is appeared near by the image and narration, and also briefly and highlight the content, it would help learner to learn.
The second category of multimedia learning principles contains the concepts of segmenting, pre-training,
and modality principle. These are intended to manage essential processing during learning (Mayer, 2009). The
segmentation principle simply states that a multimedia tutorial that provides the user with pacing control, through
use of a Start/Stop button or continue button, will result in greater learning than a tutorial that plays from beginning
to end (Mayer & Chandler, 2001). By providing this self-information flow, it allows learners to process the
information more deeply and will result in enhanced learning. Lusk et al (2009) emphasizes that individuals with
different working memory capacity requires different basic (recall) and deep (application) knowledge acquisition.
These individual variables will affects learning in a multimedia instruction environment. However, the modality
principle could not always be replicated with different kind of learning materials (i.g. De Westelinck, et al., 2005;
Mann, et al., 2002; Tabbers, et al., 2004; Tabbers & Spoel, 2011; Witteman & Segers, 2010). These authors have
thus argued that the modality principle may only apply to short system-paced multimedia, and instructions within
the technical domain. Based on these result, it was concluded that spoken text and visual text do not seem to tax
working memory differently, and challenging the different channels assumption as an explanation for the modality
effect. (Gyselinck et al. 2008, Tabbers, et al., 2011). Sixty students of communication and people from other
backgrounds but with a degree in higher education participated Tabbers et al. (2011) research, and the experiment
was failure to replicate the modality principle using exactly the same materials as Mayer and Moreno used in their
1998 and 1999 studies is a remarkable finding. Although many studies have found the modality effect, especially
with system-paced multimedia materials on more technical subjects; the modality effect might not be as large as
assumed in the literature, and that several boundary conditions may play a role in its occurrence. (Tabbers, et al.,
The Third category of multimedia learning principles contains the concepts of multimedia, personalization,
voice, and image. Those principles are aimed at fostering generative processing during learning. A deeper kind of
learning occurs when learners are able to integrate pictorial and verbal representations of the same message. Based
on the personalization principle, multimedia instructional message should be presented in conversational style rather
than formal style (Mayer, 2009). In the voice principle, Mayer indicated that learner performs better when they
received human-voice instruction than machine-voice instruction. He also claims that people do not necessarily learn
more deeply from a multimedia presentation when the speaker’s image is on the screen rather than not on the screen
(Mayer, 2009).
Although Mayer’s principles provide guidance for educator and multimedia designer to design the learning
materials and improve learner’s learning. However, the multimedia instructional technologies as well as the
educational environment has been changing rapidly through the years. In this session, presenter will discuss these
multimedia learning design principles, such as how those learner’s response with coherence, redundancy, modality,
and voice principle when they learning second language; and how this twelve principles could benefit multicultural
learning background. On the other hand, attendants will invite to share their valuable experience about multimedia
learning design and opinion of improving learner’s learning experience.
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Lusk, D. L., Evans, A. D., Jeffery, T. R., Palmer, K. R., Wikstrom, C. S. & Doolittle, P. E., (2009). Multimedia
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