multimedia principle

Project #6: Coherence Analysis

What is the Coherence Principle and its most important constraints/criteria?

The Coherence Principle refers to the elimination of extraneous and unnecessary materials within a designed lesson.  The principle focuses on what the instructor can eliminate from the lesson design, such as extraneous audio, extraneous graphics, and extraneous words.  The question that instructors should ask themselves when designing a lesson is “Is this graphic (music, word, etc.) essential for the understanding of the lesson objective?”.

Describe and/or include one example of successful and one example of unsuccessful attempts to apply the Coherence Principle in actual instruction and training you have experienced, especially as it might be implemented in PowerPoint-based instruction and training.

One successful training I have taken that aligned with the Coherence Principle was the Powerpoint, discussion, and performance task training I took entitle “Active Shooter”.  The presentation portion only included information that we were going to use in the active shooter scenarios.  I have also seen unsuccessful trainings in relation to the Coherence Principle.  One training course I took to learn a student information database had pictures and paragraphs of information.  In truth, it should not have been a presentation, but probably a step-by-step .pdf format.

Have you ever seen this principle violated or abused? Identify the violations, including citations as needed from your textbook.

I have seen this principle violated frequently with the use of background music.  Many of the presentations that I have viewed in this program have had extraneous background music.  These were generally created by students, and I do not believe they were aware of the Coherence Principle.  Clark and Meyer state that “…evidence points to the mental toll that can be levied by extraneous sounds” (2011, p. 158).  After reviewing a variety of studies, Clark and Meyer (2012) noted better learning transfer when extraneous sounds and music are not included.

Discuss the relationship of the Coherence Principle to other Multimedia Learning Principles examined thus far in your readings.

The Coherence Principle easily aligns with the Contiguity Principle, as both consider the careful selection of both graphics and words.  Instructors are encouraged to think deeply about the wording and graphic selection in order to convey their message easily.  Additionally, the Modality Principle and Coherence Principle are related as the Modality Principle recommends narration for complex-graphic presentations, and does not recommend music or sound effects as part of the narration.  The Redundancy Principle directly relates to the Coherence Principle by recommending the use of audio OR text, not both, thus aligning with the reduction of extraneous audio and words.

Discuss the relationship of the Coherence Principle to fundamental theories of psychology as described by Clark & Mayer in your textbook.

The reduction of extraneous elements is supported by the cognitive theory of multimedia media learning in which deeper learning occurs when presentation-based distractions are reduced.  The arousal theory is contraindicated, however, and evidence seems to be stronger toward the reduction of extraneous elements, rather than the inclusion as a method to increase arousal.  It should be noted that additional research is needed in relation to learner interest and cognitive load.

What do you personally like or dislike about this principle? Present a coherent, informed opinion and explain why you hold this opinion.

I appreciate this principle because I am a learner that is often distracted by elements that are meant to arouse, but are not necessarily required to understand the content.  I remember when I learned PowerPoint many years ago and we were encouraged to add slide sounds effects.  Whenever I viewed a PowerPoint and heard the random sound effects, it would almost always result in a class-wide discussion of the sound effect selected, not the content.  I have seen this occur now that I am an educator, as well.  Sometimes I use presentations that were designed by others, and I have found that the presentations with sound effects are going to completely “derail” any content-based discussion I am hoping for.  Therefore, I am for the elimination of extraneous effects, specifically for objective-based learning.

Are there any limitations or qualifications of the principle (caveats) which the authors did not consider and, if so, what are they?

Although this was briefly discussed in the text, game-based learning theories contradict a lot of the information found in many of the multimedia principles.  I think a designation of objective-based versus “casual”, or informal learning should be made.  Casual learning could be playing a video game with historical elements, for example, and extraneous effects may be added when considering motivation, arousal, and flow theories.  Kapp (2012) explained that game research proves games are beneficial for learning, especially when the content is objective-based.  The multimedia principles discussed in this particular book seems to focus more on online/face-to-face instruction where the learning is more formal.  Considerations should be made for game-based learning in relation to the various multimedia principles.

Furthermore, as more research is done on multimedia theories, researchers are finding evidence that does not directly align with these principles.  One example is the study conducted by Schweppe and Rummer (2016) where they determined that “combining pictorial information and written text is beneficial for long-term learning, contrary to what has been suggested in the modality principle of multimedia learning” (p. 135).  If the modality principle is found to be questionable, then it is likely that the coherence principle will also be questionable.  Additional research is indicated, especially as society continues to learn more about the brain and memory.


Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2008). E-learning and the science of instruction, 2nd                           edition. Pfeiffer: San Francisco, CA.

Kapp, K. M. (2012). The gamification of learning and instruction: Game-based methods and                         strategies for training and education. San Francisco: CA: Pfeiffer.

Schweppe, J., & Rummer, R. (2016). Integrating written text and graphics as a desirable             difficulty in long-term multimedia learning. Computers in Human Behavior, 60,                           131-137.  


Project #2: Static Multimedia Instruction

Click link below to download .pdf of project


I recently designed a static multimedia instruction project using a web 2.0 tool called “Clarify”.  Clarify makes it easy to take screenshots, type instructions, and download the document for distribution.

As a professional familiar with design processes, I decided to follow the ADDIE (analysis, design, development, implementation, evaluation) process model.  First, I thought of a problem I wanted to help rectify, as that is generally the purpose of a tutorial.  The problem I selected was how to use Google Scholar, specifically to conduct research, save articles, and sort the library according to user preferences.  I determined the users of the tutorial would be adolescents and adults, so I decided use language comparable to a newspaper article.

The learner objectives were created at this point to help me direct my design.  The learner objectives are: After following the steps in this tutorial, you will be able to create your own Google Scholar library.  Additionally, you will be able to organize your Google Scholar library according to your own labels.

The design process came next, along with the need to become familiar with the web 2.0 tool, Clarify.  I decided to practice creating a library and organizing my library with labels I had created.  I concluded that 12 steps would be sufficient enough to thoroughly explain the process.  Once I developed the 12 steps, I considered what screenshots I would need to illustrate the steps.

Finally, it was time to create the document.  I knew the steps I was going to use, so I started each step by taking a screenshot.  I then titled the step, and described the step in detail.  The multimedia principle was considered by including both graphics and words.  Clarify made it easy to apply the contiguity principle because the layout ensured that the screenshot was on the same page as the step and directions.  I added red arrows with descriptions of where the arrow was pointing to illustrate important content versus using a graphic legend.

Although I do not have an audience for implementation and evaluation, I hope my colleagues that are unfamiliar with Google Scholar library will use my tutorial.  I plan to save the tutorial for future distribution, as it will be used when I ask students to conduct research.

Sketchnoting: An Individual Interpretation of the Multimedia Principle

*You do not have to have OneNote installed to view my sketchnote, but it may appear slightly different than it appears for full-version users.

As described by Clark and Meyer (2008), the multimedia principle is the use of graphics and text to improve learner understanding.  When the multimedia principle is considered in instructional design, it is more likely that the learner will experience active learning (p. 70-71).

Sketchnoting is a method of organizing learned information using both graphics and text.  I have sketchnoted using markers and paper, but I have not created a sketchnote using my computer.  After investigating various sketchnoting tools, I decided to use what I already had installed on my computer.  The program I chose was OneNote, a note-taking tool that allows users to draw, type, and use basic colors.

The biggest limitation to sketchnoting on a computer or a tablet is the fact that it can appear like a little kid created the sketchnote.  I would have preferred to use a stylus for this project, but the goal of sketchnoting is not to create “art”.  The goal of sketchnoting is to organize information in a memorable way for the learner.  When I attempted to write words using the mouse or touchpad of my laptop, the words looked like grade school handwriting, so I chose to type the words I used.  Also, when I freehand drew the shapes I wanted to use, they looked pretty silly.  Luckily, OneNote has a setting called “ink to shape”, and it straightens the lines of the shapes so they look better.

I chose to sketchnote about what the multimedia principle is, and how to use the multimedia principle to teach specific content categories.  To view my sketchnote, please follow this link:


Clark, R. & Mayer, R. (2008). e-Learning and the Science of Instruction: Proven Guidelines for Consumers and Designers of Multimedia Learning (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

Shape Tools for Graphic Design


The use of shapes in communication is as old as the first cave paintings.  Today, we have a wealth of tools at our disposal to create graphics.  Our tools are considerably more complicated and technological than the first tools used for cave paintings, but researchers note that simple shapes are still effective from a “functional and aesthetic perspective” (Lohr, 2008, p. 248).  Additionally, simple shapes in conjunction with words can create powerful graphics that are aligned with the multimedia principle.

I am currently in the process of creating a unit/course about the Community of Inquiry Framework (see for more information if interested).  Part of creating the unit is designing a graphic (above) that uses simple shapes to help convey an instructional message.  I chose to create a graphic related to the three categories of the Community of Inquiry Framework.

Justification of Typography Design

  1. Describe your users (people that will see the typography in the unit).

The users of my unit will be educators, either undergraduate or graduate level, that are learning the Community of Inquiry Framework in relation to online course design.  It is assumed that they are adults with at least one student experience in online education.  The users would be capable of reading college-level material.

      2. Why does your typography design solution work?

This graphic represents the idea that without a “teaching presence” (the base of the balance), “social” and “cognitive presence” would not be able to balance.  Additionally, without the “social presence” circle, the “cognitive presence” circle would fall off the scale.  Lohr explained that there are many tasks simple shapes can represent, such as comparison, focusing attention, etc.  My example represents a process and a hierarchy.  Circles were selected deliberately, as “circles create a natural balance” (Lohr, 2008, p. 250).  The teacher is the one setting the social and cognitive presences, but all three presences must be applied for the course to have a perfect “balance”.

3.  What did you learn from the “user-test”?

My user-test was performed on the same individual from last week’s assignment.  He immediately noticed that each presence could not achieve perfect balance without the other presences.  He appreciated the simple design.

4.  What changes did you make to the design after the user-test?

Color was suggested, however, I am uncertain of the color scheme I would like to use for my unit.  Color will be adjusted at a later time.  The concept portrayed in the graphic was easy for the person I showed to articulate, so I did not adjust the graphic.  I may choose to adjust it is my colleagues have other ideas.


Lohr, L. (2008). Creating graphics for learning and performance (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle                    River, NJ: Pearson Education