Cognitive load theory, modality of presentation and the transient information effect
Article first published online: 15 FEB 2011
Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Applied Cognitive Psychology
Volume 25, Issue 6, pages 943–951, November/December 2011
How to Cite
Leahy, W. and Sweller, J. (2011), Cognitive load theory, modality of presentation and the transient information effect. Appl. Cognit. Psychol., 25: 943–951. doi: 10.1002/acp.1787
- Issue published online: 14 NOV 2011
- Article first published online: 15 FEB 2011
The modality effect occurs when audio/visual instructions are superior to visual only instructions. The effect was explored in two experiments conducted within a cognitive load theory framework. In Experiment 1, two groups of primary school students (N = 24) were presented with either audio/visual or visual only instructions on how to read a temperature graph. The group presented with visual text and a diagram rather than audio text and a diagram was superior, reversing most previous data on the modality effect. It was hypothesized that the reason for the reversal was that the transitory auditory text component was too long to be processed easily in working memory compared to more permanent written information. Experiment 2 (N = 64) replicated the experiment with the variation of a reduced length of both auditory and visual text instructions. Results indicated a reinstatement of the modality effect with audio/visual instructions proving superior to visual only instructions. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.