As learners, we often mistakenly think we’re learning the right way when we’re actually doing it wrong. And when it comes to e-learning, the trend continues.

Researchers showed learners two different e-learning modules. One module featured narration paired with verbatim on-screen text. A second module had narration paired with minimal text – only a few words from the narration appeared on screen.

After viewing both, learners believed they learned more from the redundant module – the one where the narration and text matched. They also said it was easier to understand and more interesting. But then researchers assessed learners’ understanding of both modules. On test questions where they had to apply what they learned – showing a deep understanding of the material – participants scored 24 points higher on the “minimal” module test.

Takeaway: When building a multimedia learning experience, avoid redundant design features that cause distraction and cognitive overload. Keep presentation designs minimal and focused on the learning material. Also, consider limiting the duration and content of each training sessions.

Fenesi, B. and Kim, J. A. (2014). Learners misperceive the benefits of redundant text in multimedia learning. Frontiers in Psychology, 5(710), doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2014.00710

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