What Factors Make a Multimedia Learning Environment Engaging: A Case Study

What Factors Make a Multimedia Learning Environment Engaging: A Case Study

Min Liu (University of Texas at Austin, USA), Paul Toprac (Southern Methodist University, USA) and Timothy T. Yuen (University of Texas at Austin, USA)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-158-2.ch010
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The purpose of this study is to investigate students’ engagement with a multimedia enhanced problem-based learning (PBL) environment, Alien Rescue, and to find out in what ways students consider Alien Rescue motivating. Alien Rescue is a PBL environment for students to learn science. Fifty-seven sixth-grade students were interviewed. Analysis of the interviews using the constant comparative method showed that students were intrinsically motivated and that there were 11 key elements of the PBL environment that helped evoke students’ motivation: authenticity, challenge, cognitive engagement, competence, choice, fantasy, identity, interactivity, novelty, sensory engagement, and social relations. These elements can be grouped into 5 perspectives of the sources of intrinsic motivation for students using Alien Rescue: problem solving, playing, socializing, information processing, and voluntary acting, with problem solving and playing contributing the highest level of intrinsic motivation. The findings are discussed with respect to designing multimedia learning environments.
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In order for technology to positively impact classroom learning, students must be motivated to use the technology in addition to learning the content presented with that technology. Literature on motivation and classroom learning has shown that motivation plays an important role in influencing learning and achievement (Ames, 1990). If motivated, students tend to approach challenging tasks more eagerly, persist in difficult situations, and take pleasure in their achievement (Stipek, 1993). Studies have indicated strong positive correlations between intrinsic motivation and academic achievement (Cordova & Lepper, 1996; Gottfried, 1985; Hidi & Harackiewicz, 2000; Lepper, Iyengar, & Corpus, 2005). This suggests that motivational problems or lack of effort is often a primary explanation for unsatisfactory academic performance (Hidi & Harackiewicz, 2000).

Students’ lack of interest in mathematics and science has been cited as one of the primary reasons contributing to U.S. students lagging far behind other high-performing countries in math and science, especially at the middle-school level (National Science Board, 1999). According to Osborne, Simon, and Collins (2003), research has indicated a decline in attitudes toward science from age 11 onward. Other researchers have also found that as children become older, their intrinsic motivation to learn science tends to decline (Eccles & Wigfield, 2002; Gottfried, 1985; Lepper, Iyengar, & Corpus, 2005). Therefore, in order to help students succeed in learning math and science, instructional technologists must create technology enhanced learning environments that can motivate students and facilitate learning.

In an effort to meet this goal, we have designed and developed a multimedia enhanced problem-based learning (PBL) environment for six-grade science, Alien Rescue (Liu, Williams, & Pedersen, 2002). This program has been used by thousands of middle school students in multiple states. Our previous research examining the impact of this multimedia PBL environment has primarily focused on its cognitive effects such as its use on acquiring science knowledge and problem-solving skills (Liu, 2004; Liu & Bera, 2005; Li & Liu, 2008), cognitive tools and cognitive processes (Liu, Bera, Corliss, Svinicki, & Beth, 2004), and its effect on reducing cognitive load (Li & Liu, 2007). Studies on Alien Rescue have shown it to be an effective learning environment for science knowledge and problem-solving (Liu, 2004, 2005; Liu & Bera, 2005).

As we continued to work with students and teachers in different classrooms, it became apparent that students often considered their experience with Alien Rescue “fun” and enjoyed using it. The following quote from a teacher captured the essence of this observation:

Kids are talking about science outside of the classroom. They talk about Alien Rescue in the halls and they talk about Alien Rescue after school. All of the sixth graders are doing this, and so some of them have friends in different class periods that are working with Alien Rescue. They will say, “what did you find out today or have you found where this alien can go?” I think that the most exciting thing is that they are talking science outside of the classroom; I think that is the most impressive thing.

This sentiment led us to ask questions regarding the affective effects of Alien Rescue. Why did students like using Alien Rescue? What did they find interesting? How did it compare to other school activities they usually do in the classroom? The purpose of this study is to investigate sixth-graders’ affective experiences, specifically motivation, as they were using Alien Rescue and to find out in what ways Alien Rescue was motivating to these students. Our guiding research question was:

Complete Chapter List

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Table of Contents
Robert Zheng
Chapter 1
Renae Low
Our knowledge of human cognitive architecture has advanced dramatically in the last few decades. In turn, that knowledge has implications for... Sample PDF
Cognitive Architecture and Instructional Design in a Multimedia Context
Chapter 2
Peter E. Doolittle
This chapter addresses the role that working memory capacity (WMC) plays in learning in multimedia environments. WMC represents the ability to... Sample PDF
Multimedia Learning and Working Memory Capacity
Chapter 3
Anne E. Cook
This chapter focuses on issues dealing with the definition and measurement of cognitive load in multimedia and other complex learning activities.... Sample PDF
Measurement of Cognitive Load During Multimedia Learning Activities
Chapter 4
Stephen K. Reed
This chapter discusses a theoretical framework for designing multimedia in which manipulation, rather than perception, of objects plays the... Sample PDF
Manipulating Multimedia Materials
Chapter 5
Katharina Scheiter, Eric Wiebe, Jana Holsanova
Multimedia environments consist of verbal and visual representations that, if appropriately processed, allow for the construction of an integrated... Sample PDF
Theoretical and Instructional Aspects of Learning with Visualizations
Chapter 6
Florian Schmidt-Weigand
This chapter introduces eye tracking as a method to observe how the split of visual attention is managed in multimedia learning. The chapter reviews... Sample PDF
The Influence of Visual and Temporal Dynamics on Split Attention: Evidences from Eye Tracking
Chapter 7
Tad T. Brunyé, Tali Ditman, Jason S. Augustyn
Multiformat and modality interfaces have become popular and effective tools for presenting information in training and instructional systems.... Sample PDF
Spatial and Nonspatial Integration in Learning and Training with Multimedia Systems
Chapter 8
Mike DeSchryver
We claim that the Web has the potential to be a quintessential multimedia environment for complex learning, particularly in ill-structured domains.... Sample PDF
New Forms of Deep Learning on the Web: Meeting the Challenge of Cognitive Load in Conditions of Unfettered Exploration in Online Multimedia Environments
Chapter 9
Renae Low
In the field of multimedia learning, although research on cognitive effects and their implications for instructional design is rich, research on the... Sample PDF
Motivation and Multimedia Learning
Chapter 10
Min Liu, Paul Toprac, Timothy T. Yuen
The purpose of this study is to investigate students’ engagement with a multimedia enhanced problem-based learning (PBL) environment, Alien Rescue... Sample PDF
What Factors Make a Multimedia Learning Environment Engaging: A Case Study
Chapter 11
Michael J. Hannafin, Richard E. West, Craig E. Shepherd
This chapter examines the cognitive demands of student-centered learning from, and with, Web-based multimedia. In contrast to externally-structured... Sample PDF
The Cognitive Demands of Student-Centered, Web-Based Multimedia: Current and Emerging Perspectives
Chapter 12
Lloyd P. Rieber
This chapter presents a review of research on the use and role of interactive simulations for learning. Contemporary theories of learning... Sample PDF
Supporting Discovery-Based Learning within Simulations
Chapter 13
Gina J. Mariano
The role and promotion of transfer in multimedia instructional environments is an oft-neglected concept in instructional multimedia research.... Sample PDF
Fostering Transfer in Multimedia Instructional Environments
Chapter 14
Kirsten R. Butcher, Sebastian de la Chica, Faisal Ahmad, Qianyi Gu, Tamara Sumner, James H. Martin
This chapter discusses an emerging theme in supporting effective multimedia learning: developing scalable, cognitively-grounded tools that customize... Sample PDF
Conceptual Customization for Learning with Multimedia: Developing Individual Instructional Experiences to Support Science Understanding
Chapter 15
Mingming Zhou
We suggest that multimedia environments can benefit from learning as well as offer significant capacity to serve as research purposes. Because... Sample PDF
Designing Multimedia to Trace Goal Setting in Studying
Chapter 16
Alan D. Koenig, Robert K. Atkinson
The first part of this chapter explores how narrative can be used as a cognitive aid in educational video games. It discusses how narrative is... Sample PDF
Using Narrative and Game-Schema Acquisition Techniques to Support Learning from Educational Games
Chapter 17
Marian J.A.J. Verhallen
Advanced digital storybooks offer, in addition to an oral rendition of text, the possibility of enhancing story content through the use of video. In... Sample PDF
How Literacy Emerges from Living Books in the Digital Era: New Chances for Young Linguistically Disadvantaged Children
Chapter 18
Wolff-Michael Roth
To learn by means of analogies, students have to see surface and deep structures in both source and target domains. Educators generally assume that... Sample PDF
Emergence of Analogies in Collaboratively Conducted Computer Simulations
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