“Think of the Children!”: The Relationship Between Visual Complexity, Age, Visual Aesthetics, and Learning Motivation With Regard to Children

“Think of the Children!”: The Relationship Between Visual Complexity, Age, Visual Aesthetics, and Learning Motivation With Regard to Children

Hsiu-Feng Wang (National Chiayi University, Taiwan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9069-9.ch014

Abstract

This experiment examined children's visual aesthetics and learning motivation with regard to websites. It applied Berlyne's theory of aesthetic preference to these websites. The experiment explored the relations between visual complexity, visual aesthetics, learning motivation, and children's age, and their effect on websites. A total of 150 children between 10 and 12 years old were involved. The children were asked to rate websites of different levels of perceived visual complexity in terms of visual aesthetic and learning motivation. The results showed that the children preferred websites that displayed a medium level of perceived visual complexity to those that displayed a high or low level of perceived visual complexity. Thus, the results supported Berlyne's theory. However, when aesthetic preference was analyzed with respect to age-related differences, it was found that older children preferred a medium level of perceived visual complexity and younger children preferred a high level of perceived visual complexity.
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Introduction

Recent years have seen an increasing number of children’s educational institutions introducing e-learning websites. In order for these websites to be useful they need to be informative; they also need to be usable and attractive. However, while much research has been conducted into the usability of websites (Pee, Jiang, & Klein, 2018; Hasan, 2016; Hart, Chaparro & Halcomb, 2008), little has been carried out into their visual appeal. Research that has been undertaken includes studies into overall impressions (Schenkman & Jönsson, 2000; Tractinsky, Katz & Ikar, 2000), the importance of aesthetics with respect to the layout of the website design (Tuch, Bargas-Avila & Opwis, 2010) and the effect of aesthetics on website (Lopatovska, 2015; Chang, Chih, Liou & Hwang, 2014). Research has also been conducted into users’ preferences with regard to perceived visual complexity in websites; however, most of this work has involved adults (see Michailidou, Harper, & Bechhofer, 2008; Pandir & Knight, 2006). As such, little is known of children’s appreciation of visual aesthetics with respect to perceived visual complexity in websites and whether varying levels of visual complexity affect their learning motivation. Furthermore, little is known about whether the effect of visual aesthetics with respect to website design changes with age.

Given the various aspects of visual aesthetic influence, the perceptions of websites, and the dearth of research conducted in this area (Tractinsky, 2013), the goal of the current study is to provide a better understanding of the relations between visual complexity, visual aesthetics, learning motivation, and children’s age, and their effect on children’s websites. In particular, it addresses the following question: what levels of visual complexity (high, medium, and low) and age groups (4th grade and 6th grade) can enhance children’s appreciation of visual aesthetics, and their learning motivation on learning websites? The findings are expected to be applicable in a wide range of situations in which researchers, practitioners and children’s educators needs to design better websites to motivate children’s learning.

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