Investigating the impact of gender-differences and spatial ability on learning from instructional animations

By Ruchi Gupta, Nadine Marcus, Paul Ayres

This study investigated two factors (gender; spatial ability), whose admission may underpin mixed results often found in instructional animation research. It also compared learning effectiveness of instructional animations by comparing three conditions (animation, animation + narration, animation + gesturing). 72 university students were randomly assigned to one of the conditions showing a paper-folding shape construction. Overall, the narration condition was found to be superior to the gesturing condition, which in turn was superior to the basic animation condition. However, this pattern was entirely generated by females. For males no significant differences were found between conditions. Furthermore, females scored higher than males even though there were no spatial ability differences. In addition, it was found that an appropriate spatial ability measure was needed as a covariate to identify all effects. If gender and spatial ability data had been excluded from the analyses, the findings would have been misleading and incomplete.

  • instructional animations
  • spatial ability and gender
  • narration
  • gesturing
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