Proceedings of The Physiological Society

Physiology 2016 (Dublin, Ireland) (2016) Proc Physiol Soc 37, PCA101

Poster Communications

The design of animations and multimedia for teaching

C. Daly1, J. Bulloch1, D. Aidulis1, M. Ma2

1. School of Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom. 2. Department of Art & Communication, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, United Kingdom.


  • Figure 1. (Left) Animation 'stills' of vascular neuroeffector transmission. (Right) Traditional diagram.

  • Test Scores and bonus marks awarded for each group of students.<\#13>

    Table 1. Test scores for Level 3 pharmacology (pharm) and physiology (phys) student groups viewing either a fully animated multimedia presentation (Animation) or a still-image-based (Stills Only) presentation. Test scores were marked 0-11 and unlimited 0.5 mark bonuses were awarded as described in the text. A significant difference (*, p=0.04) was detected in the bonus marks awarded to the pharmacology stills group vs the pharmacology animation group.

There have been very few studies on the effectiveness of multimedia as a learning tool (Rolfe & Gray 2011). Our hypothesis was that students would prefer animated presentations and that learning would be enhanced. It has previously been reported that static images worked just as well as animation (Paik & Schraw, 2013). These authors examined the ‘Illusion of Understanding' in which students invest less cognitive effort when viewing an animation that appears to be easier to understand. Therefore we have investigated the use of animations versus static images in an instructional multimedia presentation. We created two versions of a 3D animation describing vascular function. V1 had a full 3D moving animation whilst V2 had 17 static images from the animation (Fig1). 54 Students (two groups of 27 level 3 physiology and pharmacology students) viewed V1 or V2 and then answered a short 8 min. question. A marking criteria assigned ‘core' (essential material) and ‘bonus' marks (correct use of terminology). Results showed a trend in favour of animation, but this was not statistically significant (table 1). The only significant difference was the lower bonus marks scored by the pharmacology ‘stills' group vs the pharmacology ‘animation' group. Student feedback was 88% positive showing a clear desire for more animation content. Our results illustrate the ‘Illusion of Understanding' as appetite for animation did not translate into better grades in this form of ‘single view' assessment (Daly et al., 2016). Future animations of this type must have lower extraneous (unnecessary) cognitive loading (i.e. background music) and assessment should feature multiple views with user control. The results of this study further confirm that 3D instructional animations per se will only be of value if appropriate multimedia and cognitive load theories are taken into account (Reed 2006).

Where applicable, experiments conform with Society ethical requirements