The effects of fact location and feature imageability on learning from a computerized geographic map



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Texas Tech University


Our world, as we know it, has experienced radical change as a result of a revolution. Not a political revolution, but a revolution the likes of which this world has not seen since the Industrial Revolution. The revolution is that of technology.

This educational research study focused on learning comprehension of undergraduate collegiate students in a multimedia environment. Participants studied a geographic reference map about the island of Malta.

The theoretical focus of this research was centered on the Temporal Contiguity Principle. The research results reflect the research findings of Mayer’s (1984). Mayer’s Temporal Contiguity Principle addresses meaningful learning with multimedia: “Students learn better when corresponding words and pictures are presented simultaneously rather than successively†(p.96). This proximity between words and pictures facilitates recall and transfer of performance for the learner. This principle is based upon Paivio’s (1991) Dual Coding Theory, which explains that the human memory system consists of two separate cache system: a verbal cache and a non-verbal cache. When both caches are activated together, referential connections are made between the two storage areas. These referential connections are used during recall and transfer performance to improve meaningful learning.

The two independent variables of the study were contiguity and imageability. The criterion measures were three post-tests concentrating on recall, map reconstruction and inferential knowledge. A 3 (imageability) X 2 (contiguity) factorial research design was employed to address the research hypothesis.

The research hypothesized that high temporal contiguity and feature imageability would promote higher scores on recall, reconstruction, and inference post-tests. The findings concluded that temporal contiguity does have a significant effect on participants’ recall and reconstruction on post-test achievement scores. There was no interaction between temporal contiguity and imageability.

The findings relate to practice by showing that students will make more referential connections when map facts are placed contiguous to map features, rather than when map facts are separated from map features. Promoting meaningful learning from a computerized map can facilitate comprehension for geography students who are frustrated by their experiences with social studies.