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Effects of Animation on Computer Based Instructions - Dissertation Sample

10 Mar 2017Dissertation Samples

In this paper we would investigate the effects of animated learning using computer based instructions. Several recent studies by Rieber, Mayer, Lowe and others have shown that computer based instructions are helped rather than hindered when animated graphics are used as instructional tools. Although there are several research empirical studies on animation and graphics in computer based learning, very few studies have highlighted the use of animated graphics in computer based learning and teaching environment. Some studies have claimed that the instructional value of animation in teaching is more hyped than true suggesting that animations are tools that can make lessons attractive and exciting to learners but may not necessarily help in enhancing performance or improving learning.

We will show that this argument may not be entirely true as animation and movement is a perceptual phenomenon and can help to explain learner attention, motivation, perception and memory that are all associated with proper learning. The Dual coding theories suggest that since words and objects are coded separately, visual information can be a help rather than a hindrance in learning. Taking this approach, we conduct an experimental study using 20 high school participants in the age range 16-18 years. All the participants are from the same school but learning different subjects in the humanities.

They had little or no understanding of some scientific concepts which were shown to them for the experiment. The experiment was done on a popular science subject, relating the analogy of the solar system and the atomic structure showing where these two structures are similar and where these are different. The 20 participants were randomly assigned to two groups, one of which was a control group and the other was an experimental group. The control group participants were exposed to the science lesson specified for 1 hour without any graphical representation or audio-visual aids. The experimental group was given the same science lesson for 1 hour but unlike the first group not as a conventional classroom instruction, but on computer with animated graphics to show the workings of the atoms and the solar system.

Both the groups were given a test, lasting for about 10 minutes after the lesson, during which they had to answer 10 questions on the science lesson on solar system and atomic structure presented to them. The mean scores on these tests were calculated for both the experimental and control groups. The standard deviation scores were also found out and a final analysis and conclusion was drawn based on the tests. According to our results, animated graphics did seem to have a profound impact on the learners and improved performances on lesson test drastically.

Introduction:

The effectiveness of computer based instructions on learning aims and objectives will be studied in this paper. Rieber (1990), Reed (1985), Caldwell (1980) and several other researchers on computer animation and its effects on learning have reported improved learning with computer-aided devices. Rieber for instance studied the effects of animated presentations on incidental learning and the extent to which the different computer practice activities contain characteristics responsible for increasing intrinsic motivation in participants. Computer based interaction not only helps in improving learning but by playing a role in motivating participants, it also helps to make learning more effective and interesting. Multimedia computer based instruction (CBI) makes learning more interactive, exciting and relevant to the modern E-age. Multimedia options range from still videos to music and animation.

Computer based learning and instruction has been growing in popularity not just in schools and colleges but also forms a part in training programs of large corporate houses that are increasingly using animation and other multimedia techniques to promote E-learning. The amount of information that finally reaches the learner is largely dependent on the kind of information used and the type of media used as an instructional method. Researchers of computer animation and its use in improving learning have been trying different and more improved methods with which to make learning more effective and interesting. This is mainly done by increasing learning programs that heavily rely on interactive technology and latest audio and video equipments.

These programs with audio and video facilities are not only extremely helpful for disabled learners but also seem to make learning more interesting for regular normal learners. The sophistication with which web based and animated learning is being conducted matches with the developments in latest web-based and graphics technology that is taking computer graphics and animation to new heights of technological superiority. In this study we will determine the effectiveness of using computer aided instructions and animation as against regular classroom instructions and traditional paper and pen learning techniques without any audio-visual aids.

In one of the major studies carried out by Dahlqvist et al (2000), the authors used a pilot study to study the effects of animations used within educational software. The study was done on 16 7th grade subjects and they were all tested on physics and scientific concepts specific to understanding the pendulum movement. The authors chose to examine not just the efficacy of the educational software used for the instructions but also the feasibility of the study according to the methodology chosen for the test situation. Their instructional program consisted of a short tutorial and a test. The tutorial part had a lesson on the pendulum and showed that only the length and not pendulum weight has any effect on the time period calculated. 5 animations were used in this study and the test consisted of multiple choice questions with true/false indications.

Our following study will be similar to Dahlqvist's study but our science topic will not be the pendulum but an astrophysics topic related to the workings of the solar system. Dahqlvist and his colleagues reported that some adjustments in the instructions for the test were necessary to suit individual needs. As with most studies in this field, even in our study each subject in the experimental group will have an one-to-one interaction with the animated version of the lesson presented on the computer screen.

Research Objectives:

In our study we use PowerPoint tools, macromedia flash player, principles of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), dynamic Learning Content Management System (dLCMS) and LOs or learning objects that are assembled to lessons to determine the effectiveness of CBI in instruction of a popular science topic.
We will also test and evaluate the system and report our experimental study using the principles of HCI, CBI and E-learning.

With the results obtained we will make further recommendations and suggestions on how computer aided instruction can or cannot be effective, the limitations encountered in the study and the ways and means of improving CBI tools to improve its effectiveness as a learning tool for simple scientific concepts to complex management programs.

Research Questions:

Have the instructional tools been effective for improving learning?
Is there a significant difference between computer-aided instructions as opposed to traditional classroom instructions?
Do the learners exposed to CBT in the experimental group learn better and faster than the control group?
Do the animation tools prove effective in CBI learning methods?
Can the animation and computer aided tools be used effectively on a wide cross section of learners, whether intellectually challenged or perfectly normal?

Rationale for our study:

There have been some studies on accessibility tools and a differentiation of text readers and image magnifiers used for disabled learners. Rieber's test on the effective use of computer graphics differentiated between two groups exposed to either visual presentation of either static graphics or animated graphics. According to the reports suggested by Rieber, 'students successfully extracted incidental information from animated graphics without risk to intentional learning ' (Rieber, 1990. p.78)

Most of these research studies, including that by Rieber and Mayer suggest that computer animation does help in improving learning quite drastically and students preferred returning to sessions with animated graphics as compared to static graphics. Although Rieber's study emphasized on the difference between animated and static graphics and the effects on learners, our study will seek to differentiate between learning by pen and paper based instruction without graphics and then compare this with learning with animated graphics.

There have been several studies on computer animation and graphics and associated learning curves including the effectiveness in learning using these technological tools. Most of these studies and research have indicated that learning is increasingly improved with the aid of computer-based tools.

This is supported by several solid theoretical foundations which are necessary to explain and justify the use of animation in computer based learning. The rationale for use of animation in computer graphics and computer based learning is given by several perceptual theories that explain why designers and web developers prefer the use of animation in CBI worldwide. Perceptual theories and Dual coding theories are both important to explain and support the use of animation in CBI. A proper analysis of both these theories helps in guiding decision making of instructional applications of animation. Rieber and Kini (1991) have defined computer animation graphics as a series of rapidly changing computer screen displays that give illusions of movement.

The authors claim that animation on computer, film, video is not a real motion but only a representation of motion and this illusion of motion seems to operate on 'draw, erase, change position, draw, erase' and such routine mechanical instruction that is repeated in every operation and produces an 'illusion' of motion. However there is no firm basis according to which the use of animation could be explained. There have been several controversial discussions on the use of animation. One on the one hand, visuals can bring about distraction effects and on the other graphics can also enhance learning. In recent years the increased use of animated graphics has led to the availability of animations in CBI worldwide. Levin, Lentz and others have tried to highlight on the necessity of a congruency between the learning task and associated instructional activities.

The two major applications for using animation seem to be 1. Animation used as a presentation strategy and 2.all practice activities involving interactive animated graphics. Practice activities, lesson plans, presentation strategies are all enhanced by animated graphics both in their applicability and in their effectiveness as audio-visual media. According to Rieber, (1991) 'Efficacy of animated presentations appears particularly dependent on task requirements, cognitive load, and selective attention' (p.86). This statement of Rieber's has several implications suggesting the nature of learners, their personal abilities and requirements, the cognitive tasks that they can handle at a specific time and the attentional features required in the learners are all associated features along the program itself which will need certain unique applications and tools as graphic features that can serve to complement the entire instructional program. Learner abilities and necessities act in unison with technical necessities inherent in the instructional program to aid in the construction of a CBI learning content.

The perceptual and psychological frameworks that support instructional applications of animation have been analysed by Rieber and his colleagues in some detail. The perceptual factors describe how the illusion of animation is made possible with the graphic tools available. Within the context of instructional design it is also discussed how visuals can contribute to long term retention and aid in learning. According to the authors such information and research will help in construction animations that are more effective and more convincing to learners.

We designers, animators, graphics artists thus have a role to play here, they not only have the responsibility of creating animations for better learning effectiveness in students, they also have a responsibility of improving their graphics to make them more convincing, exciting to promote interest and impact in the learner community. One of the suggestive conclusions which most researchers on animation seem to draw on is how to create, prepare and contribute more effective animation within the context of instructional design. These theoretical perspectives determine, 'why, when, and how to incorporate animated visuals effectively into CBI' (Rieber and Kini, 1991).

The theoretical implications of animation include, as we suggested - both psychological and physiological factors. Perceptual theories determine the way animation can work and impact learner motivation and performance. Perception is a physio-psychological process and much of visual cognition is dependent on how people perceive and retain visual information So perception plays a central role in vision as perception involves the process of selectively attending to and scanning of a given stimulus by picking up and interpreting cues and significant details and as perceiving the general meaning of objects as a whole (Levine, 1987) .

As for animated visuals, people are made to see movements that are not present and are only illusions. Animation clearly is a phenomenon of apparent motion where motion is perceived although being actually not present. This is in contrast to real motion when an actual object moves across receptive fields of visually detecting neurons. Actual movement as opposed to apparent motion is perceived when an object crosses the receptive fields of two distinct neurons. Motion is usually perceived when two static images are presented at rapid succession, quick enough at an optimum level so that two images presented in succession are seen as movement of one continuous image.

Motion of two lights for example presented at 16 frames per second show a smooth, continuous moving image; however when images are shown at a rate less than 16 frames per second, the motion appears discontinuous and vague. Thus the mind fills the gap of a rapid series of still images and 'constructs' motion facilitated by a 'cementing' mental faculty. The new studies on consciousness highlights this fact that the construction of continuity and perception of motion by filling gaps in images perceived is a unique characteristic of the mind and tends to emphasize its organizing principle. Apparent motion is also perceived by varying brightness and colour.

The features of animations contributing to apparent motions are threefold:
Time between projections of the separate displays
Light intensity of the displays, and
Spatial distance between each of the displays 
Temporal and spatial distances and appearance times of images (for example images presented within short time or space) and the colour or light intensity of animated displays are all important in giving an illusion of motion within animation. Spatial orientation, spatial frequency, depth plane, colour, size, shape and texture of displays also impact the perception of apparent motion although these factors have very little significance in perception (Rieber and Kini, 1991)

Perception and memory are the two unique features and theoretical bases on which the identification of the instructional computer design is generally based. The separate images of a single object in motion are what make up the perception of motion. The brain (or the mind) seems to apply its own perceptual and organisational principles to give a meaningful pattern to separate images. Perceiving motion acts like a glue and brings several assemblages of images which are separate and help the brain to see a continuous moving pattern. Recent research has suggested that long range and short range apparent motion work in unison to bring about the perception of motion. 

Apparent motion seems to be the basis of motion pictures, shown in television, films, laser discs and videotapes, in scoreboards, theatre screens and computer animation software. However motion perceived by the human brain is always in accordance with the universal physical laws and acts according to these principles. Motion perception is based on a perception that the physical world is guided by a basic set of rules and works in a coherent continuous fashion and is not random or disharmonic. So, in motion as in perception of the motion, producing and perceiving the optimum speed at which images are displayed whether in films, televisions, score screens or animation graphics, is very important. The temporal and spatial gaps which are filled by the perceiving brain to perceive continuity, have to be presented with extreme precision.

As Rieber writes, 'Successive discrete images are integrated to produce an apparently continuous visual environment' (1991, p.85). Apart from the fact that the human mind is capable of using visual information quite effective and sensitively, we have to point that the system of vision is the most well developed perceptual system within the human physiology. The faculty of vision being so highly developed and sophisticated in its workings, any computer base instruction based on a visual method of presentation is definitely superior to any other method. This particularly justifies the use of animation in computer based teaching and may be explains why animation is more effective than probably any other tool in enhancing performance and improving learning. The uses and effectiveness of animation are thus understood with perceptual theories that suggest that the brain perceives motion although there may be no real motion. This helps the brain to learn about the external environment.

The effectiveness of animation and rationale for using to improve learning is also explained with the dual coding theory that suggests objects and words are coded differently and separately with visual and verbal coding systems. Perception of visual information when helped with verbal information can only improve and not hinder performance if different channels are utilised for their inputs and perception. The final reason for using animation as an effective tool is geared by the fact that the human visual system is the most sophisticated perceptual system and this might justify its use in improving learning and using its as a means to effect the learning environment to make it more effective, interesting, exciting and informative.

Our study aims to understand the basic difference in learner achievement with traditional methods of instruction and computer-aided instruction. We tail off our study with suggestions and recommendations based on our findings. Recommendations are mainly on the extent to which computer based instructions can be used on a certain category of learners to improve learner effectiveness and study potential. We would suggest the applicability of computer aided tools and examine the avenues where such tools could be used.

Motivation:

To answer the question as to why the learning tool with animated graphics should be used at all, we have to analyse the advantages and disadvantages of such a system and compare the results of computer based instruction with traditional methods of teaching and learning without using audio-visual tools. E-learning is not just a fact in schools, companies and learning institutions for the able and disabled; it has a considerable presence in the market of the E-world. Fast developing learning tools, aided instructions, audio-visual graphics and animations have become more of a rage in modern day learning and have begun to form a part of every child's learning equipment.

The true benefits of E-learning tools however need to be properly evaluated and defined. What are the real benefits? How can this be measured or weighed up against possible benefits of traditional paper based learning? What category of people actually benefit from these methods of instruction? How is this beneficial to normal able users and disabled users? What are the comparative statistics of the benefits of using animated learning tools? What are the downsides of computer-aided instruction? Does it bring in faster learning but poor retention? How is retention of learning material affected with CBT? These and more questions can be motivating factors of carrying out this research comparing computer-based instruction with learning by traditional conventional means.

Our study however must limit to answering only a few of these questions as answering all these question is beyond the limits and scope of this paper. If we are able to determine the true benefits of learning with computer aided tools, it can help us suggest new beginnings in computer research and a new direction to educational strategies practiced in schools, colleges, and training campuses of corporate and other institutions.

We carry out our research with a belief that computer based instructions will herald in a new phase in education and will go a long way in attaining educational objectives.

Weiss et al (2002) have laid down the two aspects of CBT research emphasizing on the nature of animations and the nature of the subject matter. The authors point out that the use of animation in teaching and instructions has been gaining in popularity, yet whether these animations coupled with the lessons are only superficially impressive or are genuinely instructive remains to be seen. Researchers like Rieber, Large and others have written on genuine concerns on the use of animation. Weiss and his colleagues suggest that there have been very little research results on the principles guiding the use of animation.

Even if there are some research studies on this, this may get highly theoretical for interpretation by many practitioners who depend largely on empirical examination of animation with very little consideration given to the use of animation. To provide a guideline for contexts within which animations could be used, Milheim (1993) attempted to provide a guide or application rules for the use of animation however there are limitations to what extent these rules of animation use could be applied to general contexts and circumstances. Many scholars such as Hannifin et al 1986 suggest that in order t develop effective tests and lesson plans with the help of animation, animated content should be made based not on trial and error methods or intuitive beliefs but on real necessities of the lesson so that it is more relevant to the lesson in question and sound principles are followed to relate the animations to the lessons in general.

The Nature of animation is one of the primary points to be considered and according to Weiss et al the nature of animation is best described by examining its characteristics and purposes. First point to consider is the relation between animation and static visuals- how the animation used is seen different from a similar static visual. The theoretical basis for using animated graphics and static graphics being the same, it is important to find an extra advantage which the animated graphics will serve and how it can be helpful for achieving the present goals of the study.

In our main motivation for using animation is to distinguish learning with computer aided animated instruction and conventional classroom instructions without the use of graphics or visual tools. However Paivio's dual coding theory that we have already discussed suggests that texts and graphics are coded differently and these graphics can be either animated or static, they are both processed in a similar way. However research by Rieber and Mayer has suggested animation have some features which give them an edge over other kinds of non-animated graphics, animated graphics show trajectory and movement characteristics that can be useful in any instructional learning.

In computer based instructions, animations should serve specific purposes. The five main functions of animation described by Weiss et al are considered as the inherent purposes of animation. These are: Cosmetic Function, Attention Gaining Function, Motivating/ Motivation Function, Presentation Function and Clarification function. The cosmetic function has the most obvious purpose; it serves to make lessons attractive to learners rather than instructive. The attention gaining function of animation helps to capture the attention of less motivated learners by using moving figures, prompts, flashes and screen washes. Feedback suggesting a correct or incorrect response in terms of graphics has been considered to have some motivating elements as it seems to motivate learners with the animated feedback provided. However the animated graphics in teaching rather than in the feedback can have inherent motivating features as the animations can add excitement in learning and can motivate the students to perform better.

The obvious and advantageous part of animation is its use in presentation strategies. Animation techniques are effectively used in presentations to appeal to the audience and onlookers, to make a message clearer and visually comprehensive and can also provide a concrete reference and visual context for ideas (Mayer, 1989). Another advantage of animation widely discussed is its clarification functions. Animation helps in providing clearer conceptual understanding of any idea and this is usually done without providing any new or additional information. As seen even in our study on 20 respondents, animation given to a group of students will act as a tool to clearly present certain conceptual ideas within the science topics studied and clarify existing doubts if any.

Achievements:

One of our major achievements in this research is to find out the relative and comparative effectiveness between computer based learning and conventional instructions. According to our study the participants of the CBT groups definitely showed major improvements in their learning objectives, both in terms of the period of time needed for learning and the ability to retain the meaning of the information provided. The CBT group exposed to computer-aided instructions showed superior training and learning abilities compared with learners who were not exposed to any technological tools and had to learn in a more traditional manner.

Our study definitely helps in pointing out that learners with computer-based instruction definitely benefit from the method of instruction given to them. They are able to learn, retain information and able to present the information later quite correctly. Their performance was definitely superior to the control group who showed poorer retention or learning abilities. The benefits of computer-aided instruction thus seem quite evident from this study although further research and more experiments have to be conducted to prove this to make it a significant fact. Our research already has the support of several similar studies conducted in this field and more such studies only highlight the effectiveness of CBT and usefulness of animated graphics in non-traditional learning.

For our purposes we have created animated instructional tool on PowerPoint and this is then used as a learning tool on 20 participants selected from random sampling with similar age ranges maintained in the control and experimental group.

Our achievements in this study are thus twofold -
1. Establishing the link between computer aided instructions and animated graphics with learning effectiveness on normal or able learners. 
2. Developing a computer based instructional tool and animated graphics to test the training of science concepts to a range of students selected randomly.

Participants:

For our testing system we have twenty participants to determine whether computer based animated learning is more effective than non-animated non-computer based systems of learning. For the tests, we selected a sample of 20 participants, all high school students randomly selected and from different humanities departments except science departments to eliminate any sampling effect and practice effect. All the participants were in the age range of 16-18 years and half of them were males and other half females. These twenty students were then randomly assigned to 2 groups. Group A learners were exposed to lessons on solar system and atomic structure comparisons just by verbal instructions without any graphical representation. Group B students were given a similar lesson on a particular science concept as group A but with the aid of full animated graphical instructions.

Group A thus had traditional learning methods; Group B had computer aided methods to help with their learning and instructions. Both Group A and Group B had 10 participants each and to avoid practice effects none of the participants’ chosen were science students. All participants had little or no exposure to scientific concepts. 10 of the participants, 5 in each group were male whereas 10 participants, again 5 in each group were female. All the participants were exposed to training sessions for 1 hour each and after each learning session, they were given a questionnaire in which they answered questions on the subject matter learned. Each of this question answer session for both the experimental and control group were 10 minutes long and both the groups were given the same concepts and lessons to learn and both the groups were given similar instructions, and same questions at the end of the 1-hour sessions.

Materials and Apparatus:

Software: The computer-based instructions were created and developed using Macromedia Author ware/Flash Player and PowerPoint. All these software tools provide with features and functionality that most accessibility tools require. Macromedia author ware and Director both seem useful and suitable for our purposes. To create and edit the visuals and graphics, paintbrush, Photoshop were used to make video clips of acceptable quality and standard. The advantages of this kind of procedure are that it helps to make testing simple, effective and visually presentable.

Hardware: Several hardware tools are also associated with this study. The component CPU is Intel compatible with 2.4 GHz. Its system RAM is 512MB with a hard drive of 40 GB, 7200RPM. The monitor is 19" with a non integrated video adapter. The operating system is Win XP Pro with 10/100 Ethernet adapters. It has a built in modem with a CD-RW and DVD Combo Drive. The advantages of using this are that if any digital images are used, they could be transferred directly on to a PC without further scanning. However we haven't used a digital camera here.

System Design:

The system has been designed using Macromedia Director and PowerPoint tools using an Intel compatible CPU. Acrobat and Photoshop have also been used with a macromedia flash player too. We have used 4 animations in our presentation.

Procedure:

The participants (20 in all) were randomly assigned to two different groups, so that there were 5 males and 5 females in each group. All the participants were all of similar age range and educational level. The participants of the first group were taken to an instruction room where they were given instructions on the solar system and the comparisons drawn with atomic structure and were explained the basic concepts of the solar system, the movement of the planets around the sun, similar to a conventional picture of the movement of electrons around the nucleus in an atom, simply with verbal instructions, without any animated graphics, or pictures on the board.

They were just given a conventional; traditional lecture on what is the solar system and how it can be compared with the atomic structure and components. This instruction continued for 1 hour after which the class was concluded with a 10-minute question answer session about the solar system. Each participant was given 10 questions on the lesson taught to them and all the questions were based on the lesson on solar system that immediately preceded the questioning session. It was made certain that every question was also a part of the instructional material given so any external knowledge of the subjects was not presumed. The result from each student was taken, analysed and conclusions were drawn from the analysis.

The second experimental group, Group B was also made up of 10 participants with 5 males and 5 females all in the age range of 19-21 years. All these participants were non-science students with only minimum knowledge in science as taught in school. All the participants of this group were taken to another instruction room where they were given a lesson on solar system for 1 hour similar to group A but the only thing that differed here was the method of instruction. In this case the subjects did not have any traditional method of learning but were given computer-based instruction or CBT with animated graphics to explain to them how solar system can be related to the smallest atoms in its workings.

The computer-aided instruction thus not only had graphics to aid learning but also animation to show exactly how the solar system could be explained by using the analogy of atomic structure and other such similar concepts. As with group A, this experimental group was also asked to complete a 15 minute question answer session with 15 questions exactly the same questions given to Group A. To maintain instructional content similarity between groups, both the lessons and the questionnaire given after the lessons were kept identical. Each of the members of Group B answered this 10-minute questionnaire comprising of 10 questions and all the questions were based on the instructions given on the solar system with the aid of animated graphics. The responses of all the 10 learners of this group were analysed and conclusions on the group's performance as a whole was drawn. 

The Instructions given to members of Group A (control group) was as follows: 

“This is a 1 hour lesson on the solar system. The solar system comprises of 9 main planets, asteroids and smaller satellites and of course the sun at the centre. The planets tend to revolve around the sun and the planet nearest to the sun is the Mercury followed by Venus, earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. There is a tenth planet also discovered recently. The structure of the solar system which looks like a central sun surrounded by orbits with a planet in each orbit s similar to the atomic structure that has a nucleus at its centre and has orbits in which there may be a possibility of finding one or more electrons at specific regions in the orbits. There are however some major differences between the solar system structure and the atomic structure and thus the analogy is only partial……”

The Instructions given to group B (experimental group) was as follows:

“This is a 1 hour lesson on the structure of the solar system and its similarities and differences with the atomic structure. We will graphically show you the structure of the solar system and how it differs and s also similar to the atomic structure. We begin our presentation and lesson. Slide 1 – the Solar system has a sun at the centre with nine planets revolving around it in their respective orbits. Slide 2 – the structure of an atom is shown here. The atom also has a central structure, a nucleus which is surrounded by orbits that may have one or more electrons that are found in specific regions. This definitely shows the analogy of the solar system an atomic structure. However both are not completely similar…….

The responses of both the groups, taken from a test that followed were then tabulated in a comparative chart and performances of both the groups were also compared considering the mean scores on the questionnaire. The performances of the groups as a whole were compared and individual performances of members of both the groups were also studied. The results helped us to analyse and interpret our findings and conclusively prove whether animated graphics aid or do not aid in the learning of scientific concepts.

We consider our study as quite conclusive and representative of the general use and applicability of animated graphics and computer-aided tools on E-learning.

5. Results:

Group A: 

Group Mean Score: 54.94
Standard deviation (SD): 9.35
Group B: 
Group Mean Score: 76.16
Standard deviation (SD): 11.60
Individual Scores: 
Group A
Amy (F) - 52.76
Bobby (M) - 49.22
Heidi (F) - 45.69
Mohan (M) - 63.57
Jack (M) - 56.72
Sonia (F) - 51.28
Jennifer (F) - 60.41
Charles (M) - 59.98
Ray (M) - 54.71
Miriam (F) - 55.10
Group B
Josie (F) - 69.32
Peter (M) - 84.77
Suzie (F) - 70.61
Steve (M) - 79.80
Daniel (M) - 78.99
Rounak (M) - 82.11
Shabnam (F) - 67.31
Mark (M) - 70.58
Rachel (F) - 89.60
Linda (F) - 68.46

6. Interpretation of Results:

The results obtained from our experiment on Group A and Group B have yielded two different sets and ranges of scores. The participants were given 10-minute questionnaires that they were required to complete based on the 1 hour popular science lesson they were exposed to. All the questions were of same difficulty level and all the twenty participants of both the groups were given the same 1 hour lesson and the same 10 minute questions. The questions neither were of objective type and did nor require any elaborate description but very short answers.

At the end of the lesson and questionnaire session, the group mean score for Group A the participants of which received conventional training sessions was at 54.94. This is on a possible full score of 100 as each of the 10 questions carried a full mark of 10. The Standard Deviation score for group A was at 9.35. Comparing these scores with group B results, the overall mean score representing performance on the 10-minute test on solar system was much better and higher for Group B. The mean score on test performance for Group B was 76.16, much higher than Group A mean scores which was just 54.94. The SD or standard deviation for Group b was higher than Group A, at 11.60 suggesting that the individual scores and the number of correct responses for the second group tended to vary and this may be related to the method of instruction which seem to have affected different learners differently.

This fact has been supported by several similar studies which show that not all learners respond to computer aided instructions equally. Some learners tend to learn better and faster with computer aided tools but this varies from one learner to the other. Learner variation has been reported more in case of CBT learning than in conventional classroom instructions. One of the reasons may be all learners are not adequately equipped to learn faster and more efficiently with graphic tools. Although there were no disabled learners in our study, learner variations in terms of abilities and personalities cannot be ruled out and using machine-based instruction may be more individualistic than we usually considered. Personal limitations may be highlighted in computer based learning because of the added tools of graphics and animation which may require human computer interaction at a personal level or at least more engagement on the part of the E-learners.

Analysing individual scores, all the ten participants in the first control group showed similar levels of attainment with participants Amy, Sonia, Jack, Ray and Miriam showing similar scores around 50-55. Heidi and Bobby showed lower scores in the 40s, whereas Mohan and Jennifer did fairly well at above 60 score range. In contrast for the second group, we see no score range at 40 mark or even 50 mark and most scores were at 60s, 70s or 80s range. Since the participants were randomly assigned groups and chosen from humanities departments at the same academic level, such difference of scores in the two groups can be only be attributed to the nature of instructions given.

Here the abilities of students are taken as similar for both the groups because they were all chosen from the same high school level and were of the same general academic level and knowledge level. This nature of instructions, which we pointed out as a determining factor for the difference in scores in the two groups, can be considered as an independent variable that acts on the dependent variable that is test scores. This independent variable is the method of instruction, in this case instructions given either in traditional classroom conditions with a conventional method of teaching as given to group A, this is the control condition or instructions given to Group B using modern computer aided instructions and animated graphics as learning aids.

The results obtained both individually and group wise definitely show that the computer aided instructions to teach popular science concepts of the planetary system has been highly effective as a teaching and learning method when compared with conventional classroom instructions with no graphics or audio-visual learning tools. Our results definitely indicate that CBT method of learning and animated graphics is a highly effective tool and far better as a learning tool than regular classroom training. Our study supports similar research studies by scholars like Mayer, Rieber and others who have suggested that graphics, animated graphics, computer based learning devices and web based instructions are visually more appealing, exciting and interesting to learners and helps in subsequent retention of information and promotes better learning.

Using established studies as sources of background information, we can also suggest that learning techniques using audio visual tools, animated graphics and computer based instructions can be more interesting, exciting and appealing to students and can explain why students being taught with these modern devices can show better retention of information, improved performance in lesson test scores and report a more positive learning experience than students given the ordinary classroom based conventional training session.

7. Discussions:

Our study began with an analysis of animation within e-Learning taking into consideration research reports of stalwarts in the field like Mayer and Rieber. We discussed similar research carried out by researchers in this field with university students, high school students and 7th graders all point to the fact that animation and visual graphics help in improving performance and makes learning more effective, easier to remember and informative and exciting. These studies have also been largely drowned by controversies as to whether animations merely have a cosmetic function and help to make learning effective or also have some real contributions to actually improving learning and helping in retention of learning material.

Rieber and his colleagues suggested that animation has several functions and these are attention gaining, and motivating functions as animations help to capture attention and also by retaining attention, motivates the subject to improve learning and perform better. The attention gaining function of animation is triggered by the fact that animation involves movement and change of features. Movement in characterised by changes of the spatio-temporal location and we moved on to a wider discussion on the nature of animation and its effectiveness in terms of perception and memory.

Animation we suggested is characterised by apparent rather than real motion as there is a general perception of motion although there is no real motion. This is also seen in the graphics of televisions, score screens and found in animated computer graphics. Here we explained that although there is no motion, animation is perceived as motion by the brain due to the rapid continuity of images. If images are presented to human s continuously at an optimum rate or speed, the mind perceives apparent smooth and continuous motion by filling up the gaps between the presentations of the images.

Animations are thus supported by a visual perceptual system which is one of the most sophisticated sensory systems in the human body. Supported by the sophistication and perceptual capabilities of vision, the use of animation is also justified when we consider the fact that according to dual coding theories, graphics are encoded differently and separately from words. We suggested perceptual theories, the structure of visual sensory system and dual coding theories can all be used conclusively to justify and support the use of animation in computer based teaching and learning.

We suggested several applications of animation as a practice tool, as a presentation strategy and a means of visual enhancement of materials used in instructions. Animation according to our theoretical analysis is thus not just an application to make learning and teaching attractive but it is genuine means of improving learner participation, motivation and interest. 

Yet, theoretical perspectives aside, we can also discus the effectiveness of animation in learners as obtained from our experimental study. Of our 20 participants who participated in a science lesson of a popular scientific concept, 10 of them were exposed to graphic tools and animation to aid along with the lesson which was given on the computer. The other ten participants were not given instructions with any graphic tools and had a conventional method of instruction based on regular classroom type training and lesson.

All participants had to sit through a written type objective test in which they had to answer 10 questions based on what they learnt in the 1 hour science lesson given to them. After the participants performed on this test, test data were collected and all the scores were tabulated. The individual scores were marked on a possible full score of 100 and out of 100, the score of each individual participant was calculated.

The scores of all the participants from both the groups were then analysed and the means score for participants of the two groups were calculated to get groups means for groups A and B which represented the control groups and experimental groups respectively. We found that control group mean score were significantly lower than experimental group’s mean score. We also found that standard deviation scores of members of group B were higher than that of group A suggesting that animation may not similar effects on all participants.

The higher groups mean score for group B, experimental group, the members of which were exposed to animated learning suggested that animation, graphics and computer based instruction may have had a positive effect on learning and has helped in retention of information significantly in the members of the experimental group. However in case of the control group, conventional methods of using only verbal instructions did not seem to have too much of a positive impact on learning as performances of most of the members of the groups did not compare positively or highly with the scores of members of the experimental groups, all of whom performed quite well.

8. Conclusion:

From this study we suggest that animation is an effective computer based learning tool and when used can result in  better  performance in students than learners exposed to the more conventional learning methods.

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