Recent evidence suggests that for highly transient information, instructional animations only provide a learning benefit compared to static presentations for object manipulation tasks. This study continued the research into animation-static comparisons by investigating whether showing static pictures of hands would have a positive impact on the non-manipulative tasks of memorizing arrays of abstract symbols. University students were randomly assigned to conditions according to 2 (hands: no-hands vs. with-hands)×2 (presentation: statics vs. animation) factorial designs. The level of transient information was manipulated across experiments by increasing the number of symbols from 9 in Experiment 1 to 12 in Experiment 2. Results showed that for the most transient task the static presentation was superior to the animated format. Most importantly, significant interactions revealed that the effectiveness of static presentations was enhanced by showing the static hands, whereas the effectiveness of animations was reduced by showing these hands.

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Learning and Instruction
Department of Psychology

Castro-Alonso, J., Ayres, P., & Paas, F. (2014). Learning from observing hands in static and animated versions of non-manipulative tasks. Learning and Instruction, 34, 11–21. doi:10.1016/j.learninstruc.2014.07.005