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Mayer’s Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning (CTML) specifies on a cognitive level how learning from multimedia instructional messages takes place and has produced many instructional principles that can be used to strengthen learning from multimedia. In this chapter, we explore the historical foundations of the CTML in cognitive psychology and in the field of instructional design. More specifically, we discuss three foundational theories to which the CTML is related that provide a strong theoretical and empirical basis for its cognitive and instructional principles and processes. These theories are Alan Baddeley and Graham Hitch’s multistore model of memory, Allan Paivio’s dual coding theory, and John Sweller’s theory of cognitive load. We introduce these theories as they existed at the time the development of the CTML started, and discuss how they are connected to Mayer’s CTML. In addition to discussing the theoretical connections, we also discuss differences between the foundational theories and the CTML and recent developments in these theories.
The collaboration principle in multimedia learning states that collaborative learning is most effective when the distribution advantage learners experience during collaborative learning (i.e., the cognitive benefit learners experience from being able to share the burden of information processing with team members) is larger than the transaction costs learners also experience (i.e., the cognitive demands placed on individual learners due to the need to communicate, coordinate, and regulate their actions). The design of multimedia environments may affect the outcomes of collaborative learning in a positive way, for example, by increasing the distribution advantage of learners by offering tools that facilitate sharing of information, or by lowering the transaction costs of collaboration by offering tools for effective communication.
This chapter discusses the generative drawing principle in multimedia learning. The generative drawing principle states that asking students to create drawings while reading text causes generative processing that leads to better learning outcomes. An important logistical issue when the generative drawing strategy is used is to create a form of drawing activity that minimizes the creation of extraneous cognitive processing by providing appropriate support for drawing. The studies reviewed in the chapter provide evidence for a positive effect of drawing. The results are also consistent with the cognitive theory of multimedia learning, which posits that people who engage in generative processes while learning are more likely than those who do not to construct meaningful learning outcomes. An important logistical issue for instructional designers when using the drawing strategy is to create a form of drawing activity that minimizes the creation of extraneous cognitive processing, by providing appropriate support for drawing.