Can functional brain imaging be used to explore interactivity and cognition in multimedia learning environments?
Barney Dalgarno, Charles Sturt University, Australia ; Gregor Kennedy, University of Melbourne, Australia ; Sue Bennett, University of Wollongong, Australia
Journal of Interactive Learning Research Volume 21, Number 3, ISSN 1093-023X Publisher: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE), Waynesville, NC
This paper reviews existing methods used to address questions about interactivity, cognition and learning in multimedia learning environments. Existing behavioural and self-report methods identified include observations, audit trails, questionnaires, interviews, video-stimulated recall, and think-aloud protocols. The limitations of these methods are examined, highlighting the problems with using behavioural information to speculate about the cognitive activity that is occurring; the difficulties posed by relying on the correct interpretation of questions or accurate recall of past events; and the potential for the data collection methods to have an impact on cognition as it is occurring. Functional brain imaging techniques offer a complement to the existing methods, but possess a number of inherent methodological constraints. The specific constraints emerging from a recent pilot study carried out by the authors are discussed in detail, including: limitations on learner-computer interaction because of the need to use MRI compatible input devices; activation from motor tasks potentially confounding the results of comparisons between cognition occurring during interactive and non-interactive resources; visual differences between multimedia conditions potentially confounding the results due to activation associated with the visual processing; and problems with the provision of ‘baseline’ or ‘rest’ conditions for comparison purposes during holistic problem-based tasks. Despite these constraints it is argued that the use of functional imaging techniques within this field of research has significant potential.
Dalgarno, B., Kennedy, G. & Bennett, S. (2010). Can functional brain imaging be used to explore interactivity and cognition in multimedia learning environments?. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 21(3), 317-342. Waynesville, NC: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).
© 2010 Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE)