Using Computer Animations to Learn Science: A Literature Review

Saturday, 14 February 2015
Exhibit Hall (San Jose Convention Center)
Blanca Pineda, University of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
This poster presents the findings of a literature review that investigated how the use of computer animations could enhance conceptual understanding of abstract concepts in high school and college science. Students’ have difficulty understanding abstract concepts in science because of several reasons: cognitive demand, visualizing concepts with static images, misconceptions, and traditional books and lectures. Using animations can help students enhance understanding of science concepts including; the ability to conduct experiments, observe abstract phenomena, interact with and manipulate what students are learning, explore and hypothesize “what if” scenarios, and make representations of abstract phenomena more concrete. The literature revealed that the use of animations is more effective when used as a supplement to traditional methods of instruction such as lectures and textbooks. In order to maximize science learning, animations should be designed or chosen based on evidence-based multimedia design principles grounded in theory. The Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning provides a theoretical framework that takes into account learners' cognitive processes: extraneous processing, essential processing, and generative processing. Future research should include experiments that investigate if the use of computer animations in lieu traditional instruction alone, not in addition to traditional instruction, can benefit science learning.