Animated models use animations and explanations to teach how a problem is solved and why particular problem-solving methods are chosen. Often spoken explanations are proposed to accompany animations in order to prevent overloading the visual channel (i.e., the modality effect). In this study we adopt the hypothesis that the inferior performance of written text compared to spoken text is due to the fact that written text receives less attention and, consequently, less effortful processing. In a 2 × 2 factorial experiment (N = 96) with the factors modality (written, spoken) and reflection (reflection prompts, no reflection prompts) the hypothesis is tested that prompted reflection requires learners to explicitly attend to written explanations and carefully process them, thus yielding higher transfer performance, whereas for spoken explanations prompted reflection would have no effect on transfer performance. The results indeed showed the hypothesized interaction between modality and reflection prompts. They suggest that the modality effect can be compensated for when learners explicitly attend to the information and effortfully process it. This has implications for learning situations in which spoken explanations are no option, such as education for the hearing-impaired. © 2008 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Contemporary Educational Psychology
Department of Psychology

Wouters, P., Paas, F., & van Merriënboer, J. J. G. (2009). Observational learning from animated models: Effects of modality and reflection on transfer. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 34(1), 1–8. doi:10.1016/j.cedpsych.2008.03.001