Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


Learning and Instruction


Catholic Educational Leadership EdD

First Advisor

Xornam Apedoe

Second Advisor

Patricia Busk

Third Advisor

Mathew Mitchell

Fourth Advisor

Sarah Capitelli


The current study is grounded in the cognitive theory of multimedia learning. The investigator considered how embedding science text with visuals could affect secondary-school students' ability to retain the information they learn (rote learning) and transfer the new knowledge to an unfamiliar problem (meaningful learning). Furthermore, this study explored how the type of visuals (static versus vs. dynamic visual) and text (audio vs. print) affect science learning. The data generated was sourced from student participants in a secondary-school biology classroom. The purpose of this study was to investigate how prior knowledge and the integration of information modalities (i.e., text, audio, static visual, dynamic visuals) promotes rote learning (information retention) and meaningful learning (knowledge transfer) in science. The study was used also to investigate how the interaction of prior knowledge, which was coded as expertise level, with information modality effects learning and cognitive load.

The study was based on a quasi-experiment that included a pretest, intervention, and posttest phase. The pretest assessed prior knowledge of the subject matter and established a baseline knowledge score. 117 participants were assigned to one of four treatment groups. For Group 1, the learning material was exclusively text. Group 2 had textual information with embedded pictures that corresponded with the concepts in the text. Group 3 had animation with the text subscripted in a video. And, Group 4 was provided with a fully animated version of the video that included audio narration instead of subscripted text.

Three sets of response variables were generated from the collected data: (a) rote learning scores, (b) meaningful learning scores, and (c) cognitive load scores. The between-group differences in the response variables were evaluated via analysis of variance (ANOVA) using the SPSS Statistics software package. The ANOVA results revealed statistically significant effects only for rote learning and the cognitive load associated with rote learning. No statistically significant effect was detected for meaningful learning, the learning intervention, and their associated cognitive loads. Furthermore, the interaction of prior knowledge (i.e., learner expertise) with information modality did not have statistically significant effects on any of the responding variables.