The Instructional Role of Illustrations
Excerpt from U.S. Department of Labor
"People tend to eye-minded, and the impacts visual aids bring to a
presentation are, indeed, significant. The studies, below, reveal
interesting statistics that support these findings:
- In many studies, experimental psychologists and educators have found
that retention of information three days after a meeting or other
event is six times greater when information is presented by visual and
oral means than when the information is presented by the spoken word
- Studies by educational researchers suggest that approximately 83% of
human learning occurs visually, and the remaining 17% through the
other senses - 11% through hearing, 3.5% through smell, 1% through
taste, and 1.5% through touch.
- The studies suggest that three days after an event, people retain
10% of what they heard from an oral presentation, 35% from a visual
presentation, and 65% from a visual and oral presentation.
"Presenting Effective Presentations with Visual Aids" May 1996
OSHA Occupational Safety & Health Administration U.S. Department of

Recognition Information
To communicate information that people need to recognize, pictures are
extremely effective. In one study (Shepard, 1967), people looked at
600 pictures, sentences, or words. On an immediate test, recognition
accuracy was 98% for pictures, 90% for sentences, and 88% for words.
Another study (Nickerson, 1968) found that people had 63% recognition
accuracy for a group of 200 black and white photographs one year after
initial viewing. Other researchers (Standing, Conezio, & Haber, 1970)
showed people 2,560 photographs for 10 seconds each. After three days,
the study participants recorded recognition accuracy of over 90%. Read
and Barnsley (1977) showed adults pictures and text from the
elementary school books they used 20 to 30 years ago. Recognition
accuracy rates for pictures and text were better than chance, with
pictures alone being recognized more accurately than text alone.
Finally, Stoneman & Brody (1983) found that children in visual or
audiovisual conditions recognized more products in commercials than
children in an auditory only condition. Pictures seem to allow very
rich cognitive encoding that allows surprisingly high recognition
rates, even years after the initial encoding took place.
Spatial Information
Illustrations are superior to text when learning spatial information.
For example, Bartram (1980) arranged for college students to learn how
to get from a starting point to a destination using a minimum number
of buses. The researcher presented the bus route information via maps
or lists and asked the students to provide as quickly as possible the
correct list of bus numbers in the correct order. Bartram measured the
time it took to correctly complete each bus route task. The study
found that the students learned the bus route information more quickly
when they used a map than when they used lists. Bartram believed that
the students performed a spatial task, and the maps were superior to
lists because the map presentation of information is consistent with
people's preferred internal representation of spatial information.
In an exploratory study, Bell and Johnson (1992) allowed four people
to select pictures or text for communicating instructions for loading
a battery into a camera. Qualitative results showed a strong
preference for pictures rather than text. The researchers believed
that the information to be communicated was spatial, and that the
results supported the hypothesis that spatial information should be
presented pictorially. "
"Multimedia Information and Learning" by Lawrence J. Najjar, School of
Psychology, Georgia Institute of Technology, 1996 Journal of
Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 5, 129-150.

"Long-Term Retention
One of the basic ways that illustrations aid retention relates to the
well-researched (but not undebated) dual-coding theory of memory
(Paivio, 1971). This theory proposes that information is stored in
long-term memory both as verbal propositions and as mental images. It
suggests that when information is presented verbally and visually it
has a better chance of being remembered. Corroborating research shows
that concrete words are remembered better than abstract words, and
that pictures alone are remembered better than words alone (Fleming &
Levie, 1978). From the dual-coding perspective, an explanation is that
concrete words help us generate associated mental images, and that
pictures alone help us to generate associated words, in addition to
detailed mental images. The combination of verbal proposition and
mental image establishes multiple pathways by which the information
can be retrieved from memory...
Retention in Working Memory
Illustrations can also be seen as assisting the short-term or working
memory by making more information readily available. Illustrations can
present simultaneously all the information needed to explain a topic
or perform a task. Where a linear string of words must use a series of
semantic cues to its organization over the course of its passage, an
illustration can use lines, boxes, arrows, space, color, typefaces,
and the relative distance between elements to communicate information
about the relationships of those elements. Because the reader can see
this information at a glance or with minimal study, graphical
presentation can be more efficient than words alone (Winn, 1987). For
example, charts with multiple columns and rows can reveal the complex
relationships between large amounts of information. Such information
would be difficult to present and even more difficult to comprehend in
words alone. When students read prose or hear exposition, they have to
hold information in working memory long enough to relate it to
information presented later– a difficult task in a long passage.
Simultaneous presentation can reduce the processing load on the
working memory and thus help students better see relationships within
the information."
"The Instructional Role of Illustrations" Cooperative Program for
Operational Meteorology, Education and Training

"Mayer and Anderson's (1992) contiguity principle asserts that
multimedia instruction is more effective when words and pictures are
presented contiguously in time or space. Studies involving multimedia
instruction have shown that learners perform better on problem solving
and recall tasks when related text or narration are close to an
illustration or animation sequence rather than when they are far away.
In a series of studies reported by Mayer and his colleagues (Moreno &
Mayer, 1999; Mayer, 1997) students read a text passage or listened to
a narration describing a cause and effect system (e.g., how a bicycle
tire pump works) and either studied a diagram or an animated sequence
illustrating the process that was described verbally. In each study,
students receiving text contiguously in space (text physically close
to the diagram or animation) or time (narration chronologically close
to the animated sequence) performed better on recall and problem
solving tasks than students under less contiguous conditions. The
current research was designed to determine whether the contiguity
principle applies to leaning from geographic maps. Comparing rollover
and hyperlink features to a separate narrative allows us to study this
variable experimentally....
It was hypothesized that learners who study a map with animated
features would more successfully encode both map feature and map
structure information than learners who studied a static map. Few
research studies have been reported on the role of animation in
learning from geographic maps. However, research integrating animation
with simulations (Rieber, 1996), graphic organizers (Blankenship &
Dansereau, 2000) and problem solving tasks (Ok-choon Park & Gittelman,
1992) have shown positive effects for animated over static displays."
"Effects of Fact Location and Animation on Learning from Online Maps"
Jul 31, 2001 by Steven M. Crooks, Michael P Verdi, David White Texas
Tech University.

INVOLVED? At the University of Maribor in Slovenia,
electroencephalography (EEG) was used to measure brain activity when
exposed to different media... The results show that students find it
difficult to form mental models from text alone. Multimedia
presentations trigger visualization strategies such as mental imagery,
which is crucial to many kinds of problem solving."
"The Affect of Multimedia on the Learning Process" Encyclopedia of
Educational Technology


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