Learning from Animated Diagrams: How Are Mental Models Built?

  • Richard Lowe
  • Jean-Michel Boucheix
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 5223)


Current approaches to the design of educational animations too often appear to be largely founded upon intuition rather than research-based principles. Animated diagrams designed to be behaviourally realistic run the risk of learners overlooking vital high relevance information that has low intrinsic perceptual salience. The information that learners extract from such representations is a poor basis upon which to build high quality dynamic mental models. For animated diagrams to be effective as tools for learning, their design should be based upon explicit and principled modeling of the way learners process such depictions. This paper synthesizes recent research to propose a theoretical framework for learners’ perceptual and conceptual processing of animated diagrams. A five-stage model is presented that characterizes the role of different levels of processing in building dynamic mental models of the depicted content.


Animated diagrams theoretical framework perceptual and cognitive processing mental model construction complex dynamic content 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Lowe
    • 1
  • Jean-Michel Boucheix
    • 2
  1. 1.Curtin UniversityAustralia
  2. 2.University of BurgundyFrance

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