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Realistic details in visualizations require color cues to foster retention


Computers & Education Volume 122, Number 1, ISSN 0360-1315 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


Research on visualizations suggests that realism can be distracting and cognitively demanding, thereby lowering learning performance. These results have been explained using cognitive load theory, assuming that realistic details act as unnecessary mental load. Recent findings from disfluency research, however, imply that under certain circumstances harder-to-perceive learning materials are able to keep learners' attention focused and trigger them to invest more effort. We contrasted these conflicting results by assessing the role of realistic details on learning. For the study, we generated a fictional bone model and varied the level of arbitrary detail (low vs. high). As previous research has revealed positive effects of color coding on visual attention, we used color coding as a second experimental factor (with vs. without) and hypothesized that color coding will primarily help participants learning with a detailed model. We conducted a 2 × 2-factorial between-subjects study (


Skulmowski, A. & Rey, G.D. (2018). Realistic details in visualizations require color cues to foster retention. Computers & Education, 122(1), 23-31. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved April 18, 2021 from .

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