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Investigating the Integration of Text and Pictures in Working Memory

Multiple Representations Lab


09/2011 - 05/2016


IWM budget resources


This Ph.D. project investigated if there is an integration process of text and picture during multimedia learning. The theoretical background of this project is the Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning (Mayer, 2009). According to Mayer, the integration process is the most crucial step in learning with text and pictures and makes significant contributions to learning success. Thus, the aim of the Ph.D project was to test the existence of the integration process by using a modified paradigm introduced by Gentner and Loftus (1979). Learners are instructed to memorize series of general and specific pictures that are presented together with general or specific sentences. For instance, subjects see a picture of a tower (general) or a lighthouse. The picture is introduced together with the sentence “There is only a tower on that small island” (general) or “There is only a lighthouse on that small island”.

figure 1

General picture (left) shows a tower and specific picture (right) shows a lighthouse.

If text and picture are integrated with each other, learners should incorporate the specific information of the picture and the general information of the sentence (and vice versa), thus resulting in an integrated model that contains the specific information. For example, the specific picture of the lighthouse is presented together with the general sentence “There is only a tower on that small island”. The resulting integrated model should contain the specific information of the lighthouse. As a consequence, learners should falsely recognize the specific sentence (“There is only a lighthouse on that small island”). Results provided evidence that text-picture integration takes place. Eye tracking studies showed that viewing behavior doesn’t reflect this process. Additional studies were conducted to investigate text-picture integration with more naturalistic multimedia materials.


Schüler, A., Arndt, J., & Scheiter, K. (in press). Does text-picture integration also occur with longer text sebments? Applied Cognitive Psychology.

Arndt, J., Schüler, A., & Scheiter, K. (2019). Investigating the influence of Simultaneous- Versus Sequential- Text-Picture Presentatons on Text-Picture Integration. The Journal of Experimental Education. 87(1), 116-127.

Arndt, J., Schüler, A., & Scheiter, K. (2015). Text- picture integration: How delayed testing moderates recognition of pictorial information in multimedia learning. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 29, 702-712.

Schüler, A., Arndt, J., & Scheiter K. (2015). Processing multimedia material: Does integration of text and pictures result in a single or two interconnected mental representations? Learning and Instruction, 35, 62-72.