Embedding research principles into multimedia teaching and learning tools

Nigel Kuan, Manjula Sharma, Christine Lindstrøm, Derek Muller


Past research has shown that students with lower prior experience in a subject area benefit greatly from the use of scaffolds in their learning. In teaching first year physics students with little or no prior knowledge, a particular approach using ‘link maps’ has been recently undertaken by the physics education research group within the School of Physics at the University of Sydney. The steady proliferation of multimedia into teaching practice has also seen research done on the effective use of technologies such as video presentations in teaching physics at tertiary and upper-secondary level. Studies on the use of multimedia often focus on motivational aspects of technological use, as well as the related learning outcomes.

With a solid research foundation for these fields, we are interested in the synthesis of these ideas into a teaching and learning tool. Our overall research aim is to develop the fundamental ideas and research basis of link maps into the multimedia environments of video and computer simulation and investigate the effects of these tools on student achievement and motivation. In this paper, we put forth the foundation of our research, in describing how previous scholarly findings inform the embedding of link maps into multimedia presentations. Challenges in meeting the demands and requirements of the native features of each will be explored, as well as how they have been addressed. Implications for teaching and learning, in terms of the level of accommodation the environments provide are also discussed. In the process, our paper also provides an insight into the debate of the relative impact of teaching experience (or ‘craft’) compared to research findings on the design of successful teaching and learning tools, as well as the famous ‘multimedia debate’.

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