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Supporting coherence formation in learning from multiple representations

Learning and Instruction Volume 13, Number 2, ISSN 0959-4752 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


Multimedia learning environments combine multiple forms of representations like texts, static and animated pictures or graphs. Knowledge acquisition from multiple representations requires that the learner create referential connections between corresponding elements and corresponding structures in different representations. As this process is usually difficult, learners frequently fail to construct coherent mental representations and, thus, do not sufficiently understand the subject matter. This paper analyzes the effects of different kinds of instructional help on the process of coherence formation from multiple representations by learners with different prior knowledge. Three groups of university students with different domain-specific knowledge had to learn a complex subject matter from chemistry using six different forms of representation. In addition, a first group received directive help for coherence formation. A second group received non-directive help, and a third group received no instructional help. Results indicate that directive help is effective for recall performance because of its summarizing and repeating function. Furthermore, learners with different levels of prior knowledge show different reactions when help is given. For learners with insufficient prior knowledge help is not helpful or, in case of recall performance, even harmful. Learners with a medium level of prior knowledge can increase especially their comprehension performance when help is offered, whereas learners with too much prior knowledge seem not to be affected by help.


Seufert, T. (2003). Supporting coherence formation in learning from multiple representations. Learning and Instruction, 13(2), 227-237. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved January 19, 2020 from .

This record was imported from Learning and Instruction on January 29, 2019. Learning and Instruction is a publication of Elsevier.

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