University of Minnesota
School of Physics & Astronomy

Physics Education Seminar

Friday, February 5th 2016
3:35 pm:
Speaker: Xian Wu, Kansas State University
Subject: Investigating the Effect of Hint Modalities on Conceptual Physics Tasks

Previous research has shown that visual hints can improve learners’ performance on conceptual physics tasks. In this study, we investigate the effect of multimedia hints that include visual, text, audio modalities as well as all possible combinations thereof. The participants (N = 162) enrolled in conceptual physics classes were recruited for this study. Each of them participated in an individual 50-minute interview, which contained four task sets. Each set contained one initial task, six training tasks, one near transfer task, and one far transfer task. We used a 2 (visual hint/no visual hint) × 2 (text hint/no text hint) × 2 (audio hint/no audio hint) between subject quasi-experimental design. Subjects were randomly assigned into one of the eight conditions and would be provided hints for training tasks, corresponding to the assigned condition. Six pairs of competing hypotheses were generated according to Mayer’s cognitive theory of multimedia learning. Overall, our results showed that task solving performance on the training tasks was affected by hint modality. Unlike what we predicted based on multimedia learning theory, we found that the audio hint condition performed no better than text hint condition. The most effective hint modality was a combination of the visual and text hints. Our study has implications for student cognition in computer-assisted instruction.

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