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Teachers are constantly creating new types of media for instructing students.

Teachers continually create media that is visually pleasing but falls short in maximum effectiveness. In e-learning there is a principle called the Coherence Principle which help guide the creation of effective media. The Coherence Principle states that when creating media one should take a simplistic approach by cutting out excess images, audio, and words (Clark & Mayer, 2008). Multiple studies support that it is essential to not overwhelm an individuals senses by using unnecessary media. Clark and Mayer stress that any audio that is added to enhance the presentation is more detrimental to the learning. When teachers add additional audio stimuli to make their presentation more appealing to students it actually overloads their working memory capacity. The authors further their argument by exploring evidence that visuals and excessive words have a similar effect. An unsuccessful attempt Ive experienced at using the Coherence Principle was when I was making a media presentation on probability. I created great graphics to help link visuals that are familiar with an unfamiliar topic. However, because of my knowledge of the Coherence Principle I used the graphics sparingly and afterwards the students didnt do as well as I was hoping with their understanding of probability. In response, I showed my students some of the graphics afterwards and these visuals helped make a personal connection for the students. After this experience Ive learned that although this principle states to limit graphics, as a teacher I need to recognize that graphics can also be extremely helpful to scaffold the learning for my students. A time when I experienced this principle working successfully was when I revised a co-workers presentation. This co-worker thought that adding as much stimuli as possible would catch the students attention and keep them engaged. However, the presentation ended up having approximately 15 graphics, multiple paragraphs of writing and sound effects for each slide. This caused me, as the teacher, to be clueless on the message of the lesson. In response to this, I slimmed it down the information to bullet points with a few key graphics and eliminated all sound effects. My students responded well to my newly edited presentation. Clark and Mayer address several other principles throughout their book that are relevant when examining the Coherence Principle. The Contiguity Principle and the Coherence Principle both refer to the idea of limiting typed words in a presentation and relying heavily on spoken words. The reason for this method is to limit the amount of information going in at once so that the efficiency of the learning can be maximized, similar to the Coherence Principle. The Contiguity and Modality Principles are ways of teaching in a simplistic manner to enhance overall effectiveness of the learning. The Coherence Principle is doing the same. Cognitive theory of multimedia learning asserts that one can only learn so much at a time. If music and information are offered at the same time, precious capacity is distracted by listening to the music and therefore cant focus on the data at hand. Therefore this theory supports the Coherence Principle by offering evidence that the simplistic approach is best for learning. Additionally Mayer (1999) discusses the notion of humans possessing two separate processing systems: one visual and one verbal. The author also discusses the limitations of these two processing systems and can be overloaded quickly. For example, if music is playing in the background and the speaker is talking, the verbal processing system will be overwhelmed to the point where less information is absorbed and learned. The Split-Attention Principle, as researched by Moreno and Mayer (2000), states that when creating multimedia, if the creator places lots of visuals with text, students will have to see both the visuals and the text. They then will have to process both through the visual working memory. In contrast, if the

presentation has only one graphic while the teacher is talking both the auditory and visual working memory will only have one thing to process. This frees up brain power. This principle relates to the Coherence Principle by stating that a more minimal approach is preferable. In every multimedia presentation there is a place for graphics to help form meaningful connections. If an instructor worries too much about limiting graphics they may unintentionally eliminate some that would effectively enhance students learning. However, I like the theory because I feel it is essential to keep multimedia presentations simple and straight to the point. I think it would benefit my staff to learn about this principle and apply it to their classrooms.

References Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2008). E-learning and the science of instruction, 2nd edition. Pfeiffer: San Francisco, CA. Mayer, R. E. (1999). Multimedia aids to problem-solving transfer. International Journal of Educational Research, 31, 611-623. Moreno, R., & Mayer, R. E. (2000). A learner-centered approach to multimedia explanations: Deriving instructional design principles from cognitive theory. Interactive Multimedia Electronic Journal of Computer-Enhanced Learning, 2. Retrieved from