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Selecting, organizing, and integrating text and pictures during collaborative multimedia learning

Multiple Representations and Knowledge Exchange Lab


November 2009 - July 2012


Budget resources of KMRC


This project examined how learners select, organize, and integrate relevant representations in a collaborative setting that provides the opportunity to intuitively interact with verbal and pictorial representations (through an interactive multi-touch table). The externalization of the processes, which were available through observing the interaction and communication between learners, provided an impression of processes that are covert in individual learning settings and therefore normally measured only indirectly (e.g., eye tracking data or verbal protocols).
It was investigated to what extent collaborative learning settings foster the awareness of certain properties of different representations (representational awareness), compared to individual learning settings. In a first study, a learning task was designed to further externalize the processes of selection, organization, and integration, and to provide collaborating learners with a deliberate task – learners worked with cards containing pictures or text bits about mitosis and integrated them into useable instructional materials, on which they were later tested. Collaborating learners and individuals scored similarly on tests, but had varied strategies related to selection, organization, and integration – early on in the task, collaborating learners were more concerned with the selection of information pieces, while individuals spoke more about integration. Collaborating learners also rated their cognitive load during the task as much lower than individuals.
It is thought that collaborative settings have a positive effect on the learning process, and this project aimed to pinpoint the underlying cognitive processes that are different for collaborating learners during multimedia learning. Finally, the question of how the opportunity of intuitive interaction with representations (e.g. zooming) influences representational awareness and the learning process was addressed.