To examine how visual attentional resources are allocated when learning from a complex animation about the cardiovascular system, eye movements were registered in the absence and presence of visual cues. Cognitive processing was assessed using cued retrospective reporting, whereas comprehension and transfer tests measured the quality of the constructed representation. Within the framework of Cognitive Load Theory, visual cues highlighting the subsystems of the heart were hypothesized to guide attention, reduce visual search and extraneous cognitive load, and enhance learning. As predicted, learners looked more often and longer at cued parts. However, we found no effects of cueing on visual search and cognitive load. With respect to cognitive processing, performance differences were found on the number of statements in the learners' verbal reports. These findings suggest that visual cueing can guide attention in an animation, but other factors are also important in determining the effectiveness of visual cues on learning.

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Learning and Instruction
Department of Psychology

de Koning, B., Tabbers, H., Rikers, R., & Paas, F. (2010). Attention guidance in learning from a complex animation: Seeing is understanding?. Learning and Instruction, 20(2), 111–122. doi:10.1016/j.learninstruc.2009.02.010