Universität Mannheim / Sowi / Bildungspsychologie / english / Research / Disfluency & Multimedia Learning

Disfluency in Multimedia Learning


According to Cognitive Load Theory (CLT; Sweller, van Merriënboer, & Paas, 1998), multimedia instructional material should be designed in a way that it is easily perceived so that an unnecessary working memory load is prevented, reducing the risk to hamper learning by overloading working memory. This intuitive assumption has recently been challenged by research on "disfluency" in educational settings (Diemand-Yauman, Oppenheimer, & Vaughan, 2011). These authors argue that a certain amount of illegibility - which is termed disfluency - leads to a deeper engagement and processing of the text, resulting in better learning. Accordingly, they showed that harder-to-read fonts (e.g., Haettenschweiler) lead to higher learning outcomes compared to easier-to-read fonts (e.g., Arial). This research, however, is restricted to text processing. For multimedia learning scenarios - where text is accompanied by pictures and where narrations and interactivity can be implemented - we could not find an advantage of disfluency in the studies of our project. Hence, concerns need to be raised regarding the stability and generalizability of positive disfluency effects in instructional contexts. To clarify this inconsistent pattern of empirical results, the influence of potentially moderating variables will be investigated in this ongoing project.




Eitel, A.*, Kühl, T.*, Scheiter, K., & Gerjets, P. (2014). Disfluency meets cognitive load in multimedia learning: Does harder-to-read mean better-to-understand? Applied Cognitive Psychology. doi:10.1002/acp.3004

Kühl, T.*, Eitel, A.*, Scheiter, K., & Gerjets, P. (in press). A call for an unbiased search for moderators in disfluency research: Reply to Oppenheimer and Alter (2014). Applied Cognitive Psychology.

* These authors contributed equally to this work and should both be considered as first authors.

Kühl, T., Eitel, A., Damnik, G., & Körndle, H. (2014). The impact of disfluency, pacing, and students' need for cognition on learning with multimedia. Computers in Human Behavior, 35, 189-198. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2014.03.004.