The split-attention effect seems a robust finding in the literature and shows that complex learning materials consisting of text and pictures lead to better learning when they are spatially integrated instead of spatially separated. In the current study, two experiments were conducted to investigate the effects of distance and signaling on the split-attention effect. In Experiment 1, a 2 × 2 design was used in which spatial distance (large vs. small) and signaling (signaling vs. no signaling) were manipulated, while in Experiment 2 it was tried to replicate the split-attention effect previously observed with the learning materials used in Experiment 1. In contrast to our hypotheses, spatial distance and signaling did not influence mental effort ratings and transfer performance in Experiment 1. Moreover, no split-attention effect was found on retention, transfer or mental effort ratings in Experiment 2. As no split-attention effect was obtained with the learning materials, it is not possible to examine the effects of distance and signaling on the split-attention effect. Concluding, the current results raise doubts about how robust the split-attention effect is, and demonstrate the importance of replication studies.

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Keywords Cognitive load theory, Educational psychology, Signaling, Spatial distance, Split-attention effect
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Journal Computers in Human Behavior
Cammeraat, S. (Sven), Rop, G, & de Koning, B.B. (2020). The influence of spatial distance and signaling on the split-attention effect. Computers in Human Behavior, 105. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2019.106203