Learning with multimedia: The effects of gender, type of multimedia learning resources, and spatial ability

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Computers & Education


The purpose of this study was to examine the effect of gender and type of multimedia resource on learning outcomes while controlling for the effect of spatial ability. This study also aimed to investigate the differences in learning outcomes between retention and transfer questions. The independent variables for the study were gender and type of multimedia resources (static versus animated), and the covariate was spatial ability. The dependent variables for the first study goal were learning outcomes measured by performance scores in two procedural learning tasks (functioning of a toilet cistern and a car brake system). The dependent variables for the second study goal were learning outcomes measured by retention and transfer performance scores in the two procedural learning tasks. A total of 245 undergraduate students completed participation online. As anticipated, spatial ability had the most significant overall influence on learning outcomes. Gender differences were also found, even after controlling for spatial ability. The study, however, failed to identify effects of multimedia type in learning outcomes. Male participants consistently outperformed female participants in all learning tasks, regardless of the multimedia type. While the scores from the transfer questions were lower than the scores from retention questions, as expected, this decline was significantly less for males in the car brakes task. This was not the case in the toilet cistern task however, implying a potential subject domain effect. Overall, this study is significant in that it offers empirical evidence of gender effects, separate from spatial ability, when learning with multimedia resources.


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