European Journal of Psychology of Education

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 225–244

Extracting information from an animation during complex visual learning

Article

Abstract

The construction of a high quality mental model from a complex visual display relies the capacity of learners to extract appropriate information from that display. Beginning students of meteorology complied written records of generalisations extracted from animated weather map sequences in order to prepare themselves for a subsequent prediction task. Analysis of these records revealed that much of the information extracted was perceptually salient rather than thematically relevant. This perceptual dominance effect was found for both visuospatial and temporal aspects of the display. The statements produced were deficient with regard to the causal explanations that would be necessary to build a satisfactory mental model of the depicted situation. These deficiencies involved both the proportion of causal material recorded and the attribution of causality on an everyday rather than a domain-appropriate basis. The limitations of the information extracted were interpreted as evidence of subjects’ use of selective attention to control cognitive load in a complex, demanding processing situation and the effects of their lack of domain-specific background knowledge. Contrary to prevailing orthodoxies, the results raise the possibility that in some circumstances, animations may not be instructionally superior to static depictions because the processing demands involved can have negative effects on learning.

Key words

Animation Causality Mental models Perception Visual learning 

Résumé

La construction d’un modèle mental efficace à partir d’un document visuel complexe s’appuie sur les capacités des apprenants d’extraire les informations pertinentes contenues dans cette présentation. Des débutants en météorologie ont rédigé leur interprétation de cartes du temps animées afin de se préparer à une tâche de prévision météo. L’analyse de ces rapports révèle que la plupart des informations extraites le sont du fait de leur saillance perceptive plus que de leur pertinence thématique. Cet effet de dominance perceptive se retrouve aussi bien à propos de l’aspect temporel que visuo-spatial du document animé. Dans les énoncés produits, c’est l’explication causale nécessaire à l’élaboration d’un modèle mental satisfaisant des situations présentées qui fait surtout défaut. Ces imperfections concernent à la fois la proportion de données causales rapportées et l’attribution de causalité sur une base quotidienne d’expérience plus que par référence au domaine de connaissance. Les insuffisances de l’information extraite furent interprétées comme manifestant un fonctionnement sélectif de l’attention dévolue au contrôle de la charge cognitive dans les situations complexes de traitement et comme résultant d’un manque de connaissances spécifiques dans le domaine. Contrairement à l’opinion dominante, les résultats suggèrent que dans certaines circonstances les documents animés peuvent ne pas être plus efficaces que les présentations statiques car les traitements requis peuvent avoir des effets négatifs sur l’apprentissage.

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Copyright information

© Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada, Lisbon, Portugal/ Springer Netherlands 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of EducationCurtin UniversityPerthAustralia

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