Tips to Improve Your PowerPoint Presentation from Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning by Anna Navin Young.
How often have you added pictures or gifs to a PowerPoint presentation to spice it up?
It turns out that these fun additions can actually negatively impact your audience’s learning.
This is especially important for educators and students in today’s technologically inclined classrooms because ineffective techniques can change how learners are able to process and remember the content presented and how they perform on assessments.
Richard E. Mayer’s Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning asserts that the use of words and graphics together encourages deeper learning than simply words alone (1).
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When we present information verbally, while also presenting a visual presentation (such as a PowerPoint slide), we set our audience up for an enhanced learning experience because they are using multiple cognitive processes to encode the information.
However, presentation slides that are packed full with information (especially irrelevant or extraneous information) can hinder learning (1). This is called the limited capacity assumption, which suggests that we can only process so much material at one time. If too much is presented at once, we become overwhelmed and end up missing vital information. While a goofy gif might captivate an audience, it may ultimately overload your learners’ processing of the content you’re trying to teach.
How in the world are we supposed to create meaningful presentations that can actually benefit our learners? Luckily, researchers have put this question to the test and have a couple suggestions for presentation techniques that have demonstrated improved test performance (1), (2), (3).
The first diagram numbers the stages and describes them in text (not shown) below the image. The second diagram labels all the components of the long-term potentiation process and diagrams their movement. The second diagram better connects the graphic and the text, which helps learners to organize the information.