Study examines how much is too much visual information when it comes to learning

Oct 27, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. But with advances in computer graphics capabilities, more recent cognitive theory related to multimedia learning suggests that very visually complex images could actually hinder learning.

That idea was put to the test recently by Macquarie University PhD student Iwan Kartiko. He decided to explore whether images of ants used in an educational virtual reality application could become so visually complex that they would ultimately hinder students learning, processing and retaining new material.

Kartiko devised a series of virtual reality simulations designed to teach second-year psychology students about the navigational capabilities of Cataglyphis ants.

“The students had no prior knowledge of the ants and how they navigate without landmark visual cues,” Kartiko said.

Students watched three types of progressively more complex ant-like animated virtual actors or AVAs, navigate on featureless on-screen terrain while listening to an audio explanation of how ants navigate. The ants were either flat, cartoon-like or closer to life-like in physical appearance.

Surprisingly, regardless of the level of detail and physical complexity of the ant AVAs, the results of the test showed no significant difference in how much of the information the were able to retain and use to problem-solve.

Based on current theory, Kartiko had originally predicted their scores would be lower as the visual representations of the ants became progressively more complex.

For the next phase of his study, Kartiko plans to add richer background detail to the physical surroundings of the simulation to test what impact a more complex visual background environment has on learning. His results will ultimately be used to help develop the most effective online educational materials and content.

Provided by Macquarie University

Explore further: Developing 'tissue chip' to screen neurological toxins

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

How ants find their way

Oct 18, 2006

Ever wondered how ants find their way straight to the uncovered food in your kitchen? Now scientists have discovered how the humble wood ant navigates over proportionally huge distances, using just very poor ...

Desert ants smell their way home

Feb 27, 2009

Humans lost in the desert are well known for going around in circles, prompting scientists to ask how desert creatures find their way around without landmarks for guidance. Now research published in BioMed ...

Breathing second life into language teaching

Oct 09, 2008

An international team has developed a wireless virtual reality environment that can help promote language learning and let students practice. The researchers have demonstrated their Collaborative Virtual Reality Environment ...

Fire ants reappearing in Orange County

Apr 24, 2006

Fire ants are reappearing in California's Orange County the result, say some critics, of the state ending its fire ant eradication funding in 2003.

Recommended for you

Developing 'tissue chip' to screen neurological toxins

19 minutes ago

A multidisciplinary team at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Morgridge Institute for Research is creating a faster, more affordable way to screen for neural toxins, helping flag chemicals that ...

Gene mutation discovered in blood disorder

4 hours ago

An international team of scientists has identified a gene mutation that causes aplastic anemia, a serious blood disorder in which the bone marrow fails to produce normal amounts of blood cells. Studying a family in which ...

Airway muscle-on-a-chip mimics asthma

6 hours ago

The majority of drugs used to treat asthma today are the same ones that were used 50 years ago. New drugs are urgently needed to treat this chronic respiratory disease, which causes nearly 25 million people ...

Lost protein could prevent hardening of the arteries

10 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—Researchers have found that when the protein matrix metalloproteinase-14 (MMP-14) is reduced or lost, white blood cells, known as macrophages, become good and could prevent hardening of ...

User comments : 0