Media Learning, Words and Pictures

By Paul Silli


Did you know when you see and hear a message simultaneously; there is a 40% increase in learning, in comparison to if you were just reading text? This is because when a learner is exposed to messages that contain both words and pictures combined, the message exposure is twice as effective.

When teachers offer students messages that have visual and auditory stimuli, learning improves. However, sadly if you search the Internet for educational sites, you will find mostly text driven pages.     

The author Richard E. Mayer, who is a Professor of Psychology at the University of California, wrote a book called Multimedia Learning Within his book he outlines many theories of learning by use of media. Some examples of media: video presentations, film, radio, Internet, animations, and illustrations, among others…  

According to Mayer, students learn more efficiently when words and pictures are presented at the same time, rather than successfully. When you have a message that has both visual and hearing aspects, it is referred as a Temporal Contiguity Principle. This principle is the best design to use as an instructional tool.    

Here are a couple of Temporal sites for you to view as examples:

It is evident learning outcomes improve when visual images and sounds are used to stimulate the human senses. We learn best when words and pictures are present in a message. As teachers we should consider Temporal Designs when we create our lessons. So, the next time you are showing your kids a video, tell em’ it’s teaching at its best! 😉  

What have you been doing to put Temporal Designs into your class lessons? Please submit your ideas.


7 Responses to “Media Learning, Words and Pictures”

  1. Carolyn Says:


    When I was looking websites that demonstrated spatial contiguity and temporal contiguity, it was apparent that it was a lot easier to find sites that were text based rather than word and picture based. As eLearning continues to grow, I anticipate that there will be more word and picture based courses developed for the web. This is a practice that should be following in a face to face educational setting.

  2. gatorball Says:

    Absolutely Carolyn; and as always, thanks for the comments. I think even if a lot of educators are aware of this principle, they do not seem in mass to be practicing it. At least not on the Internet… You are right, that with elearning, there should be more word and picture layouts present for learners to use. Let’s hope so.

  3. mokmcdaniel Says:

    E learning (in regards to internet courses) is still rather young- really not more than 10-15 years old. As the tools for e learning grow, and the educators learn to effectively use those tools, this medium will become very powerful!

  4. Lois Says:

    It’s always great to hear proven evidence for what many teachers have known for years. When preparing lessons, we are always faced with teaching to various learning styles. Teaching to the visual, auditory, tactile learners requires combining these various modalities into our instruction. It is so confirming! Thank you.

  5. gatorball Says:

    Thanks for you comments. Yes, eLearning is a somewhat new field, so teachers and others may not be truly aware of the need to have Temporal designs within their layouts and lessons. That is mainly why I am spreading the word here. I am trying to promote the concept. I am sure there will be better quality sites and information about this design, as elearning because more common in the field.

  6. brentgwilson Says:

    I watched the BBQ pizza video – and got hungry doing so!

    Rich Mayer knows what he’s talking about. Still, knowing how to create a really fun and original video – that’s something that Mayer doesn’t really get into.

  7. gatorball Says:

    Ha, ha, yeah that video rocks. The pizza turns out great too. If you can entertain while you teach, somehow, you will almost always be successful. Some say teachers are not here to entertain, I totally disagree. You must get the attention of a learner if you are going to promote learning. With Temporal Designs, you an do this.

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