Examining the effects of cueing and prior knowledge on learning, mental effort, and study time in a complex animation



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The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of cueing and prior knowledge on college students’ learning (retention, transfer and matching), mental load, and study time of studying an animation with narration. This study employed a 4x2 between-subject factorial design with four levels of cueing (no cueing, label cueing, picture cueing, and label and picture cueing) and two levels of prior knowledge (low vs. high). A total of 200 volunteer undergraduate college students from various majors in the Southwest University participated in this study. The experiment conducted in two phases. In the first phase, the prior knowledge test was administered to assess students’ knowledge on a biology subject “Photosynthesis” one week before the experiment. In the second phase, students were randomly assigned to one of four experimental conditions: no cueing, label cueing, picture cueing, and label and picture cueing. The participants studied the animation about photosynthesis individually. After studying the instructional material, each participant completed the computer-based assessments consisting of the retention, transfer, matching and mental load tests. Participants were given unlimited time to answer these tests. Data was analyzed by using two-way MANOVA, one-way MANOVAs and two-way ANOVAs. The results revealed that prior knowledge has a significant effect on retention and mental effort. High prior knowledge participants significantly outperformed in retention test and invested more mental effort than low prior knowledge participants. However, prior knowledge effect was not significant on transfer, matching, and study time. Moreover, no interaction effect between cueing and prior knowledge on dependent variables was found. The results also revealed that there was no significant effect of cueing on the college level students’ achievement (retention, transfer and matching), mental load and study time.



Cueing, Prior knowledge, Multimedia learning, Cognitive theory of multimedia learning, Animation