Augmentation of information in educational objects: Effectiveness of arrows and pictures as information for actions in instructional objects

Andre A. Pekerti


The use of information and communication technology (ICT) in education is now central to facilitating links between learners, resources and instructors. Regardless of whether it is used in distance education or educational objects, ICT enables educators to package education opportunities in an increasing number of alternative ways so as best to meet the varying needs of the end user. Currently, one of the challenges that face instructors is to develop materials that enhance the learner-content interaction by reducing extraneous cognitive load while at the same time facilitating learning. This study explored the effectiveness of pictorial information and augmentation in instructions and educational objects. Dual coding theory is used to suggest that information that can be processed via separate but interconnected systems will facilitate faster processing and deeper learning of the information. University students were randomly assigned to six experimental conditions to perform a novel task using six different instruction manuals. A 3 (text, text-pictorial, text-pictorial-arrows) X 2 (picture of object vs. no picture of object) design was used to test whether augmenting text with pictorial information provided additional valuable information in instructional settings. Results partially support this multimedia effect; participants exhibited superior performance in a Text-Pictorial and Text-Pictorial-Arrows format over Text format. A picture of the object also facilitated superior performance on both the assembly and operating tasks, especially in a text format. Overall, combinations of text-pictorial and text-pictorial-arrows facilitated faster assembly and operation; they reduced errors, extra procedures, and unsuccessful assemblies (uncorrected errors). Results also support the idea that arrows convey unique types of information and function. In particular, arrows may attune people to important information and/or convey information movement that guides actions during tasks. Practical implications are discussed in relation to the type of information combinations that may lead to superior instructional design of instructional objects and research, including how to reduce errors of omission.


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