- What is the Coherence Principle and its most important constraints/criteria?
When lessons are focused and do not contain extraneous information, they are adhering to the Coherence Principle. Icebreakers or “mental breaks” distract from the topic at hand and cause the lesson to be less efficient. You should not have extra sounds, graphics, videos but should use the fewest number of words and simplest graphics to teach lessons to adhere to the Coherence Principle. Moreno and Mayer state that learning happens when the learner “selecting relevant words for verbal processing and selecting relevant images for visual processing, organizing words into a coherent verbal model and organizing images into a coherent visual model, integrating corresponding components of the verbal and visual models” (2000). The learner cannot be confused by extra information.
- Describe and/or include one example of successful and one example of unsuccessful attempts to apply the Coherence Principle in actual instruction and training you have experienced, especially as it might be implemented in PowerPoint-based instruction and training. Have you ever seen this principle violated or abused? Identify the violations, including citations as needed from your textbook.
Unsuccessful attempt: Our Instructional Lead Teacher included a clip from Saturday Night Live about “More Cowbell” to summarize a Professional Development segment. Everyone was amused, but I cannot remember what the lesson what about. This violated the Coherence Principle because it was extra video that was not essential to the lesson.
Successful Attempt: A “Technology Day hosted by Dell where the moderator talked for 5-10 minutes with minimal slides showing technology implemented in the classroom, then allowed the audience (seated at round tables) to discuss or play with presented idea or technology.
- Discuss the relationship of the Coherence Principle to other Multimedia Learning Principles examined thus far in your readings.
So far we have learned to use words and graphics (Multimedia). We have learned how to use words and graphics in relation to placement (Contiguity). We have learned how to combine them specifically as audio (Modality) and audio versus text (Redundancy). This is the next step usually after learning a new thing it to use it too much. This warning of the Coherence Principle reminds us of moderation.
- Discuss the relationship of the Coherence Principle to fundamental theories of psychology as described by Clark & Mayer in your textbook.
Clark and Mayer cite several studies and their results to backup three main ideas: omit extra audio, omit extra graphics and omit extra words. The main idea of omitting extra words can further be broken down to omit extra words added for interest, omit extra words added to expand on key ideas and omit extra words added for technical depth (pages 156, 160 and 168-172). The result was the same for all three; reduce to the essential minimum. Adding extra does not mean higher performance or retention.
- What do you personally like or dislike about this principle? Present a coherent, informed opinion and explain why you hold this opinion. Are there any limitations or qualifications of the principle (caveats) which the authors did not consider and, if so, what are they?
I was surprised to find that added words for technical depth did not raise test scores. I liked the idea of reducing words at first because I have been prisoner to too many long Power Point Presentations. When I began to apply it to my own teaching, I started to dislike the idea. I thought I was helping my students by adding interesting details, but I was really distracting them with, as Harp and Mayer say “seductive details” (Clark & Mayer 169). The only warning I would have is if a student has an IEP or is ESEP, you may have to repeat or simplify key terms as outlined in their documentation.
Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2011). E-learning and the science of instruction, 3rd edition. Pfeiffer: San Francisco, CA.
Harp, S.F., & Mayer, R.E. (1998). How seductive details do their damage: A theory of cognitive interest in science and learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90, 414-434.
Moreno, R., & Mayer, R. E. (2000). A learner-centered approach to multimedia explanations: Deriving instructional design principles from cognitive theory. Interactive Multimedia Electronic Journal of Computer-Enhanced Learning, 2(2), 2004-07. Retrieved July 12, 2012 from http://imej.wfu.edu/articles/2000/2/05/index.asp