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Understanding The Redundancy Principle In Multimedia Learning

Redundancy Principle In Multimedia Learning

When teaching our class, we always want what’s best for them, and we will always ensure we pack lessons with all the vital information they need to know. Teaching is busy, and there is so much to include in each lesson

. The curriculum also demands a lot. But what if we are trying to do too much? What if holding back on using all teaching methods every lesson would help? 


The redundancy principle in multimedia learning suggests just that. 


In 2001, Richard Mayer presented the world with 12 principles of multimedia learning to support teaching and enhance progress. These are a set of guidelines proposed for educators to use when teaching digitally and with computer technology. In today’s classroom, this is often the case. Although simple, these principles are highly effective.


The redundancy principle in multimedia learning focuses on the information given to the children, and more importantly, how to deliver information during a lesson. It suggests that children find it more challenging to focus when there is on-screen text. It proposes that children learn most effectively when coordinating narration and visuals and nothing else.



What is redundant material?


Redundant material quite simply is anything presented to children in a lesson that is not needed. 


As teachers, we are aware that classes need to be stimulating. We may, for example, create PowerPoint presentations with images, text on the screen and teacher narration alongside each slide. When it comes to presenting information, though, this could become a problem. 


The underlying element here is that when teaching, using pictures, images, or photos is ideal. Visuals are one of the most effective methods to help a child understand. Visual representations become even more effective with teacher explanations. 


The redundancy principle in multimedia learning suggests that using these two methods together is the best way for children to learn. The theory suggests that on-screen text alongside the narration has a detrimental impact because it causes overstimulation and becomes useless. Children cannot focus and coordinate an image with speech and text alongside.  Learners may also become distracted by the writing, drawing focus away from the pictures. 


Although adding on-screen text may seem to make the lesson more interesting, and provide an additional channel, the redundant material (the text on the screen) can interfere with learning whilst the teacher is talking.

Redundancy principle in multimedia learning


When you eliminate redundant material, a learner is much more likely to stay on task, retain the relevant information and make the progress we would like them to.


The redundancy principle and cognitive load theory


The cognitive load theory walks hand-in-hand with the redundancy principle. Cognitive load theory suggests that learners have a limited capacity for information entering the working memory. To be precise, they can store between 3 and 7 ‘chunks’ or small pieces of information before it all becomes too much. If a child receives the optimal amount of information, the information is likely to be retained and enter the long term memory. If, however, a child is bombarded, they are likely to become confused because they have exceeded their cognitive load. 


Removing any information, such as the text from the screen, will free mental space for the information you want the children to learn and retain.


Is there a place for on-screen text?


Keeping the redundancy principle in multimedia learning at the forefront of planning and preparation inevitably helps children learn more efficiently and avoid mental overstimulation. 

The one unchanging element of Mayer’s multimedia principles is that lessons should include visual representations wherever possible, remembering that the human mind can only successfully receive information via two channels for maximum progress. Most favourably visual and auditory. If you add on-screen text as well, there will be too much information at once. 


Lessons in the early years will always be language-based because of the children’s stage of development. Hearing language alongside a visual (dual-coding) is the method to maximise their learning experience. 


This means that for learning and understanding not using text is best, but, of course, there is always the need for text in teaching because we are teaching students to read and write, and they are examined via reading and writing. 




Making slight adjustments of cutting out the redundant material and using visuals with narration can vastly impact the outcomes of a lesson. Hopefully, it will also help avoid the feeling that you have given the class everything you can, but with disappointing results.


Avoiding overstimulating experiences is inevitably one of the most effective ways to support your class, so using the redundancy principle must be worth trying!


The Chatta approach is powerful in the early years, making a strong link between image and language and giving children a strong scaffold onto which the children’s language can be focused on and developed. When teaching with Chatta, we avoid text, and the redundancy principle backs up why that works. Initially, text can get in the way, stopping children from thinking and processing for themselves.


The Chatta method doesn’t use text as it gets in the way of thinking, retention and creativity. However, once a child knows and understands the content, we remove the scaffolding (Chatta) and the knowledge/ understanding is retained. We would move onto text-related work when appropriate with or without Chatta.

To learn more about the Chatta approach and see the difference for yourself, book a free meeting with one of our team.

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