Journal of Computers in Education

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 243–257 | Cite as

Attention please! Enhanced attention control abilities compensate for instructional impairments in multimedia learning

  • Maria WirzbergerEmail author
  • Günter Daniel Rey


Learners exposed to multimedia learning contexts have to deal with a variety of visual stimuli, demanding a conducive design of learning material to maintain limitations in attentional resources. Within the current study, effects and constraints arising from two selected impairing features are investigated in more detail within a computer-based learning task on factor analysis. A sample of 53 students received a combination of textual and pictorial elements that explained the topic, while impaired attention was systematically induced in a 2 × 2 factorial between-subjects design by interrupting system-notifications (with vs. without) and seductive text passages (with vs. without). Learners’ ability for controlled attention was assessed with a standardized psychological attention inventory. Approaching the results, learners receiving seductive text passages spent significantly more time on the learning material. In addition, a moderation effect of attention control abilities on the relationship between interruptions and retention performance resulted. Explanations for the obtained findings are discussed referring to mechanisms of compensation, load, and activation.


Multimedia learning Controlled attention Interruptions Seductive details Learning performance 


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© Beijing Normal University 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology of Learning with Digital Media, Institute for Media Research, Faculty of HumanitiesTU ChemnitzChemnitzGermany

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