Noyes JA, Carbonneau KJ, Gotch CM, Matthew SM. Is a Picture Worth a Thousand Words? Evaluating the Design of Instructional Animations in Veterinary Education. J Vet Med Educ. 2020 Feb;47(1):69-77. doi: 10.3138/jvme.0118-002r. Epub 2019 Mar 28.

PMID: 30920948


Empirical evidence demonstrates that student learning outcomes improve when animations are developed in alignment with the design principles of the cognitive theory of multimedia learning (CTML). The extent to which these principles are used in the design of veterinary instructional animations is unknown. In this study, we reviewed the veterinary education literature for articles that discussed specific veterinary medical animations as learning resources. The 30 referenced animations accessed through this search were analyzed to determine whether they used the CTML's 11 major design principles. Analysis revealed that the animations most commonly adhered to only 4 principles: coherence, redundancy, modality, and spatial contiguity. The majority of the 11 CTML principles were used in fewer than 40% of the animations. We also examined the alignment between raters' perceptions of the effectiveness and enjoyment of the animations and adherence to the design principles. Analyses revealed that the animations deemed by raters as most enjoyable and effective did not utilize more design principles than animations they viewed as least enjoyable and effective. The results of this study indicate many missed opportunities to increase learning by developing animated learning resources according to empirically based design principles. Decisions to include specific animations in instruction should be based on whether the resources include elements that have been shown to increase learning rather than subjective perceptions of effectiveness and enjoyment.