513 – Coherence Analysis

  1. What is the Coherence Principle and its most important constraints/criteria?

The coherence principle in multimedia learning suggests that presentations must contain elements that are logical and consistent with the objectives of the presentation and that extraneous images, audio, or animation detracts from learning. “In short, according to the coherence principle, you should avoid adding any material that does not support the instructional goals.”(Clark & Mayer, 2008) The theory is that unnecessary audio or visual material may overload cognitive channels and decrease comprehension by the learner. Although, “Mayer listed positive results for eliminating extraneous materials in thirteen out of fourteen experiments…”(Clark & Mayer, 2008), it is still unclear how the coherence principle effects learners with extensive prior knowledge on a subject or learners within a long term instructional program. It is within this context that the Interactive Multimedia Electronic Journal of Computer Enhanced learning recommends educators should “…identify techniques for presentation of verbal and visual information that minimizes working memory load and promotes meaningful learning.”(Moreno & Mayer, 1999)

  1. Describe and/or include one example of successful and one example of unsuccessful attempts to apply the Coherence Principle in actual instruction and training you have experienced, especially as it might be implemented in PowerPoint-based instruction and training. Have you ever seen this principle violated or abused? Identify the violations, including citations as needed from your textbook.

Many times, in an effort to increase interest or emotional arousal in a presentation, instructional designers will introduce extraneous multimedia elements in order to increase perceived level of excitement or engagement. Arousal theory is “the idea that entertaining and interesting embedded effects cause learners to become more emotionally aroused and therefore work harder to learn the material.”(Clark & Mayer, 2008) Unconsciously, this is the principle I have seen applied many times by students in my Media Arts classes who, after creating a presentation rich with interesting visuals and informative content, resort to overlaying the latest hip-hop hit that is appealing to the group, but irrelevant to the project. Student developers are hoping to appeal to the viewer’s musical aesthetic in order to engage their interest in the presentation, thereby reducing the likelihood of any meaningful learning. Alternatively, I have seen many examples of Media Arts students adhering to the coherence principle in the creation of nonverbal narratives, which use music to support the story through establishing the mood and atmosphere of the conflict and the emotional elements of character. Through the careful selection of music one can enhance the visual impact of the narrative and the overall impact of the presentation.

  1. Discuss the relationship of the Coherence Principle to other Multimedia Learning Principles examined thus far in your readings.

Cognitive, Redundancy, and Modality Principles are related to each other and the Coherence Principle through their relationship to how people learn and the limitations of human perception. All of the theories revolve around the limitations of cognitive input and deal with sight, sound, and our ability to synthesize a finite amount of information at any given time. The above principles all relate to the organization of learning materials in such a way as to avoid overloading cognitive channels and designing educational materials to manipulate and maximize sensory input for learning.

  1. Discuss the relationship of the Coherence Principle to fundamental theories of psychology as described by Clark & Mayer in your textbook.

As far back as 1913 John Dewey wrote in his paper Internet and effort in education, that “…interest cannot be added to an otherwise boring lesson like some kind of seasoning.”(Dewey, 1913). If the lesson is uninteresting, one must look to the material itself and in fact the introduction of unnecessary visuals or sound will have the opposite effect, distracting the learner and interfering with their ability to make sense of the given material. These negative learning results are amplified for students who have trouble processing information. Psychologically, it is suggested that learning materials that are streamlined to present in a coherent, uncluttered, and simplified manner, without the addition of supplemental material, are more likely to be understood and retained because the learning process stems from the students cognitive efforts to “fill in the gaps” and make sense of the material. Students given too much information on a topic, especially if it delivered in simultaneous cognitive channels, will not retain the information due to cognitive overload.


  1. What do you personally like or dislike about this principle? Present a coherent, informed opinion and explain why you hold this opinion. Are there any limitations or qualifications of the principle (caveats) which the authors did not consider and, if so, what are they?

It could be argued that the coherence principle simplifies the learning process and does not consider the cognitive capabilities of the advanced student. It is clear that there are limitations to cognitive input no matter how much previous knowledge a student has, however does the inclusion of examples that involve the application of the learning principles in real life situations qualify as extraneous? The text suggests that adding extraneous words to add technical depth to information such as providing extended examples of the learning principle at work may distract from the learning objectives. This may be applied to the learner who is new to the material, but can this be true with experienced students of the material? I would contest that providing real life applications of the learning material within a presentation would assist with the cognitive process of “making sense” of the material. In my experience providing contextual examples of concepts reinforces understanding and increases retention.



1. Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2008). E-learning and the science of instruction: Proven guidelines for consumers and designers of multimedia learning. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.


2. Dewey, J. (1913). Internet and effort in education. Cambridge, MA: Houghton Mifflin.


3. Mayer, R.E.,  & Moreno, R. (2000). A Learner-Centered Approach to Multimedia Explanations: Deriving Instructional Design Principles from Cognitive Theory. Interactive Multimedia Electronic Journal of Computer-Enhanced Learning. Wake Forest University.

506 – Final Project Draft

This is the last of a series of learning log journal entries for this course. It has been a very interesting journey of discovery. I have particularly enjoyed finding out the reasons why images can be affective and looking at the psychology behind human visual perception. I have spent a great deal of time this week organizing my website and unit of instruction to be submitted in draft form. The unit I have designed is one that I am currently delivering in an Language Arts class and have found the use of graphics to aid instruction highly effective. I’m pretty proud of this work and look forward to hearing some feedback from my peers and instructor.

506 – Organization

The intent of the assignment this week was to use organizational elements such as hierarchy to create an image that represents an introduction or overview of the contents of our unit of instruction. The concept of hierarchy deals with many of the elements we have examined already in the course such as size, shape, contrast, proximity, alignment, figure-ground, and chunking. Organization of a graphic allows the designer to quickly communicate to the viewer/learner what is important about the image and guides the viewer’s eye through the image emphasizing its most important elements. Tables and graphs are used often to communicate information and this chapter offered a great deal of information on how to convey your information in a concise, impact full manner.

My introductory image is a parody of a “Time” magazine cover. I was teaching a unit that involved the creation of a fictitious magazine cover in a Photography class at the time of this assignment and thought that a cover would be a perfect way to introduce the concepts to the learners and pique their curiosity at the same time. The cover uses size, colour, contrast, alignment to draw the viewer into the image and leads the eye from the top down.


Lohr, L. L. (2003). Creating graphics for learning and performance: Lessons in visual literacy. Prentice Hall Press

“People” image source:http://www.freepik.com (Retrieved November 2, 2011)

“Light bulb” image source: http://tinyurl.com/3wbes8v (Retrieved November 1, 2011)

506 – Selection

This weeks image uses concepts from the reading that deal with enhancing selection for the learner. The image I created uses a plain white background and a grey world map, which minimizes distraction to the viewer and forces the eye to the figure; the process of micro-financing. I also used colour to coordinate and combine images in the mind of the reader. I have mentioned in previous posts how it has been interesting finding theory behind designing images that for some people are intuitive. I think before reading this chapter I have unconsciously used this concepts of minimizing distraction and reducing cognitive load in most of my images thus far. I tend to subscribe to the “less is more” school of thought, and usually try to reduce much of my work down to what is truly needed; not just in graphic design, but also in my teaching and writing. In designing instruction I carefully consider each element to make sure it is integral to the overall objects…if in doubt leave it out! This is a difficult concept for early writers who like to throw as much information at a topic as possible in a desperate attempt to cover the topic.

This is my favorite image I have designed in this course so far. Out of all of them, I think this one is the most effective in its simplicity, colour design and message.


For a complete list of references please link to:



This weeks assignment was to develop an image for the proposed unit of instruction using the principles of contrast, alignment, repetition, and proximity. I think it is important to stress that these four  elements are great concepts to consider when developing an image for learning, however they do not all necessarily have to be used in every image. As a photography teacher I make it a point to teach my students to be aware and pay attention to design principles, but also to remember that they are only principles and not steadfast rules. Sometimes breaking these guidelines to make an impact-full image or photograph is worth the risk. My image this week was originally built on a black background which, as we all know, is problematic when designing text and graphics for readability. I felt as though it was successful and had impact even though it did not have 100% contrast. Some of the text required effort to make out, but that was part of the appeal of the image to me. Many of my peers commented on the readability issue and so I changed it…reluctantly.

You be the judge.


Lohr, L. L. (2003). Creating graphics for learning and performance: Lessons in visual literacy. Prentice Hall Press

“Cloud” image source: http://tinyurl.com/66elr2b (Retrieved October 11, 2011)

Edtech 506 – Design Process

The work this week centered around a design model labelled ACE (Analyze, Create, Evaluate) and included the PAT concept (Principles, Actions, and Tools). I found this material timely in that I was also currently working on an assignment in Edtech 506 that required the development of several images that where metaphorical representations of the concepts described in a series of slides. I was also delivering a unit of instruction in a Language Arts class that required the students to find or create images that represented various elements of a short story. Both of these assignments require students to make visual connections between concepts; a process called synectics (Lohr, 2008) as described in the text as “…a set of strategies used to stimulate and enhance creative thought” (Gordon, 1961). Coming up with the ideas for a graphic for learning is, for me the hardest part and using the strategies outlined in the text offered a great starting point for this weeks assignment in 505 and 506. Using metaphor to increase meaning and impact has always been an approach I have used and encourage my students to use.

“Juliet is the sun” Three words that tells us everything we need to know about Romeo’s feelings toward Juliet.

The ACE model is an instructional design model for developing graphics for learning. When the designer is faced with the task of creating a graphic for learning one must analyze by identifying its instructional function, content classification, and consider the type of approach (artistic or heuristic) (Lohr, 2008) It is in the create phase that the designer generates ideas and works with in the PAT model as described above. After completion the graphic is evaluated by assessing its effectiveness, efficiency and appeal.

I have found that It is through the class discussion forum that the graphic can be evaluated much more effectively than through self assessment or even having a colleague look at it. As an artist it can be difficult to objectively evaluate your own work. One gets too close to their creation to see how it can be improved.

Another connection with this weeks material is the relationship between the ADDIE model of Instructional Design and the ACE model for the development of graphics or even strategies for instruction.  Within the design and development phase of instructional design is where a designer can apply the ACE model.



Gordon, W.J.(1961) Synectics. New York: Harper & Row.

Lohr, L. L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance: Lessons in visual literacy. Prentice Hall Press


EdTech 506 – Shapes

This weeks assignment dealt with the development of effective images for learning using simple and complex shapes. I choose to use the persuasive writing element of my unit as the basis for the image. After considering the concept itself, I choose to use a simplistic colour and shape design concept, utilizing a black to white gradient to symbolize the gradual process of persuasion. With three simple elements as the key points in the graphic I also choose to include a hotspot link to a web page containing more detailed information. Not having created a hotspot image since early in Edtech 502, I had to go back and revisit some of the ins and outs of Dreamweaver. These are the types of assignments/projects I really enjoy doing in the edtech program, creating, experimenting and getting feedback on your work from your colleagues.

I’ve found it fascinating to find principles behind how shapes work in the mind of the learner and how these principles can be used to increase the effectiveness of an image. For example, the mind creates perceptual groupings based on simple shapes (Lohr, 2008), therefore a designer can harness this concept in the design of their image. A designer can use shapes to suggest unity, harmony, process, systems, and focus.



Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance: lessons in visual literacy. Pearson/Merrill/Prentice Hall.

EdTech 506 – Post #1

Graphics: As a photography and media arts teacher I discuss principles of design and what makes images effective with my students all the time. What I am learning from this course is the application of good graphics for increased understanding in learning. I am also intrigued by the connection to instructional design and learning theory presented in the text this week. Using well designed images in conjunction with the principles of cognitive load theory to address learning styles allows instructional designers to produce images for optimum impact. When designing images many people seem to have an intrinsic ability to create something aesthetically pleasing; however, if a designer can combine aesthetic appeal with an understanding of concepts such as chunking, cognitive load theory, and information processing theory, they are much more likely to design an image with lasting impact on the learner. The designer must use visual strategies to appeal to the viewer through recognition, and find ways to allow the information contained in the image to process itself through short term memory and remain in long term memory. Images need to be created for learning that connect with verbal and visual memory and that translate into understanding through meaning.

Lohr, L. (2008). Creating Graphics for Learning and Performance (2nd Edition ed.). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education.
Image: http://www.mdpi.com/1424-8220/9/9/7374/