Tip #258: Cognitive Load Theory Impact on Multimedia

For this week’s Tip, I draw from “The Cognitive Load of PowerPoint: Q&A with Richard E. Mayer,” by Cliff Atkinson.

Richard Mayer refers to his book: Multimedia Learning, in which he describes the following six research-based principles for the design of multimedia instruction:

1. Multimedia principle: people learn better from words and pictures than from words alone.

2. Coherence principle: people learn better when extraneous material is excluded.

3. Contiguity principle: people learn better when corresponding words and pictures are presented at the same time or next to each other on the screen.

4. Modality principle: people learn better from animation with spoken text rather than animation with printed text.

5. Signaling principle: people learn better when the material is organized with clear outlines and headings.

6. Personalization principle: people learn better from conversational style than formal tone.

When designing a PowerPoint slide, Mayer says that it is important to present a limited amount of information (i.e., coherence principle) and it is useful to have simple graphics to supplement words (i.e., multimedia principle).

Next week, we will look at why Richard Mayer believes that the improper use of bullet points in PowerPoint kills learning!


This week, we conclude our series on cognitive load theory with a look at why Richard Mayer thinks that the improper use of bullet points in PowerPoint kills learning and how he believes PowerPoint should be designed.

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