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Does animation facilitate learning? An evaluation of the congruence and equivalence hypotheses

, Stanford University, United States

Doctor of Philosophy, Stanford University . Awarded


Animated graphics have been increasingly adopted to teach complex systems, encouraged by the preconception that realism is effective. Nevertheless, the evidence has been discouraging as to their effectiveness. In evaluating the effectiveness of a graphic device, the conceptual ideas to be communicated, the medium of the communication, and the perception and comprehension of that medium need to be considered. By the Conceptual Congruence Hypothesis, graphics should be effective in conveying concepts that are literally or metaphorically spatial. By extension, animated graphics should be effective in conveying change in time. Two research paradigms investigated this hypothesis, one using a geographic/social navigation situation, the other a mechanical system. In all cases, three interfaces with equivalent information were compared: animated graphics, static graphics, and text. Weak evidence was obtained for the static version of the Conceptual Congruence Hypothesis. Graphics were more effective than text in some cases, especially for participants with low spatial ability. Despite congruence, animated graphics may not be more effective because perception of animation is limited, conception of animation is often categorical rather than continuous, and equivalent information can be conveyed by other means.


Morrison, J.B. Does animation facilitate learning? An evaluation of the congruence and equivalence hypotheses. Doctor of Philosophy thesis, Stanford University. Retrieved May 25, 2019 from .

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