Originator: Richard Mayer
Key terms: dual-channel, limited capacity, sensory, working, long-term memory
Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning (Mayer)
The principle known as the “multimedia principle” states that “people learn more deeply from words and pictures than from words alone” (Mayer, p. 47). However, simply adding words to pictures is not an effective way to achieve multimedia learning. The goal is to instructional media in the light of how human mind works. This is the basis for Mayer’s cognitive theory of multimedia learning. This theory proposes three main assumptions when it comes to learning with multimedia:
- There are two separate channels (auditory and visual) for processing information (sometimes referred to as Dual-Coding theory);
- Each channel has a limited (finite) capacity (similar to Sweller’s notion of Cognitive Load);
- Learning is an active process of filtering, selecting, organizing, and integrating information based upon prior knowledge.
Design principles including providing coherent verbal, pictorial information, guiding the learners to select relevant words and images, and reducing the load for a single processing channel etc. can be entailed from this theory.