Animation: Is animation more effective when complemented with other strategies?


Animation tends to be more effective when complemented with other strategies, especially direct instruction.  In a study, Lin & Dwyer found that static visual treatment is just as effective as varied animated treatment in learner achievement.   When the static visual treatment is highly developed, it can be just as effective as animation.   The main idea of certain material is easily recalled from animated node-link maps rather than static maps or even animated text.   Huang explains, computer based instructional units are also effective in the cognitive psychomotor skill learning areas.   Kidwai, Munyofu, Swain, Ausman, Lin, & Dwyer, determined that animation impacts factual and contextual learning but not higher order learning.






Higgins, N. & Hess, L. (1999). Using electronic books to promote vocabulary development, Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 31(4) ,425-430.

22 third-grade children randomly assigned to control (n=11) and experimental groups (n=11)


The purpose of the study was to determine whether mere animation or animation with supplemental instruction is more efficient in learning and retention of unfamiliar words. The used material was an electronic book of poetry for children.

The children with supplemental instructions in conjunction with animation scored significantly higher (M=5.00, SD=0.89) than the children who did not receive synonyms, definitions and questions in addtition to animation (M=2.91, SD=1.30).

Lin, C. & Dwyer, F. (2004). Effect of varied animated enhancement strategies in facilitating achievement of different educational objectives, International Journal of Instructional Media, 31(2),185-198 93 college level learners randomly assigned into 1 control and 3 experimental groups The purpose of the study was to investigate effects of instructional enhancements (advance organizers, adjunct questions and feedback) in conjunction with animation on learners' information acquisition. There were insignificant differences in learner achievement among different treatment groups. Static visual treatment alone was found to be as effective as the animated treatments (advance organizers, questions and feedback) in facilitating learner achievement.
Blankeship, J. & Dansereau, D. F. (2000). The effect of animated node-link displays on information recall, Journal of Experimental Education, 68(4) . 133 college students randomly assigned to one of the four experimental conditions: static node-link map (concept map), static text, animated node-link map and animated text. The purpose of the study was to determine efficiency differences of static node-link maps and text or animated node-link maps and text on learners' information acquisition. The participants showed the highest level of information acquisition after using animated node-link maps (M=22.40, SD=10.48) as opposed to other conditions (M=17.24, 14.30, 10.13; SD=10.72, 12.57, 12.00). The research suggests using concept maps in conjunction with animation as an effective way to improve learners' information acquisition.
Huang, J. (1995). “Digitized Speech as Feedback on Cognitive Aspects of Psychomotor Performance during Computer-Based Instruction.” In: Proceedings of the 1995 Annual National Convention of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT), (17 th, Anaheim, CA, 1995). N=68 who were university students from four sections of beginning tennis classes at the Chung Cheng University in Taiwan. The participants were categorized into two groups: one group having high prior knowledge and the other group having low prior knowledge. They were randomly assigned to a computer and completed one of three treatment; spoken audio only-KOR, knowledge of the correct response-KCR (voice with text), and elaboration feedback-EF (voice with text, visual and animation).
  • The purpose of the study was to investigate the effects of digitized feedback and ability on the achievement of college students during computer-based instruction.
  • The research also studied the achievement of high and low-prior knowledge students when compared among different types of feedback treatments.
  • After the learners took the computer-based instructional unit that included an interactive video lesson on cognitive areas of tennis skill performance, the results found that they perform better under the elaborative feedback (EF-voice with text, visual and animation) condition than the KOR and KCR feedback conditions.
  • Even though the study shows that the elaborative feedback was most beneficial for cognitive areas of psychomotor skill learning, there was no significant difference between level of ability and type of feedback.
  • In addition, the study indicated that high ability students in the elaborative feedback group reported the lowest attitude scores because they might feel they got too much information that might distract with their learning

Kidwai , K., Munyofu, M., Swain W. J., Ausman, B. D., Lin, H., & Dwyer, F. (2004). Effect of Visual Scaffolding and Animation on Students’ Performance on Measures of Higher Order Learning. Association for Educational Communications and Technology , Chicago , IL October 19-23, 2004 .

Approximately 90 undergraduate students were randomly assigned to three treatments (control, simple and complex). The participants were assessed on four dependent measures; Drawing, Identification, Terminology, and Comprehension after they received the respective instructional presentation.

The purpose of the study was to investigate the instructional effectiveness of two visual scaffolding strategies (simple and complex scaffolding) used to complement animated instruction.

  • The result of this study shows that animation has a significant impact on acquisition of factual and conceptual knowledge.
  • However, the researchers found insignificant results in the contributions of visual scaffolding in complementing animation.
  • The insignificant impact on students’ performance on measures of higher order learning might have occurred because the positive effect of visual scaffolding and animation might have been cancelled by an increase in task complexity.