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This chapter focuses on defining and illustrating multimedia learning of metacognitive strategies, and reviews the empirical literature on multimedia learning of metacognitive strategies. It provides suggestions for augmenting contemporary cognitive theories of multimedia learning, proposes empirically based principles for designing multimedia environments aimed at fostering metacognitive strategies, and recommends several areas for future research. The chapter specifies self-regulated learning (SRL) as a concept superordinate to metacognition that incorporates both metacognitive monitoring (i.e., knowledge of cognition or metacognitive knowledge) and metacognitive control, as well as processes related to manipulating contextual conditions and planning for future activities within a learning episode. More research on multimedia learning of metacognitive strategies is needed to determine the optimal length of various phases of training programs and their effectiveness in laboratory versus real-world settings, as well as the retention and transfer of strategies to other domains and computer-based learning environments (CBLEs).
The multimedia principle states that people learn better from words and pictures than from words alone. It is supported by empirically derived theory suggesting that words and images evoke different conceptual processes and that perception and learning are active, constructive processes. It is further supported by research studies that have found superior retention and transfer of learning from words augmented by pictures compared to words presented alone and superior transfer when narration is accompanied by animation compared to narration or animation presented alone. Research has also found that the effectiveness of combining imagery with text varies with the content to be learned, the conditions under which performance is measured, and individual differences in spatial ability, prior knowledge, and general learning ability. Cognitive theory derived from these findings posits interactions between three stages of memory – sensory, working, and long term – that are connected by cooperative, additive channels used to process information arriving from different sensory modalities.
The Multimedia Principle
It is commonly assumed that adding pictures to words, rather than presenting text alone, makes it easier for people to understand and learn. The proverb that a picture is worth a thousand words attests to the popularity and acceptance of this assumption. The assumption leads to what may be called the multimedia principle. This principle, as stated by Mayer (2001), is that people learn better from words and pictures than from words alone, or, more specifically, that people learn more or more deeply when appropriate pictures are added to text (Mayer, in press).
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