Global Educators Cohort Program - Teacher Education

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Initial concept, as presented by Dr. Malinda Eccarius:

Cognitive load theory is built on the research of Alan Pavio, who, in the 1970s and 80s, studied how visual and verbal information is processed. Pavio’s dual-coding theory (Pavio, 1986) says that visual and verbal information are initially processed separately and then integrated in the human mind, whether or not the verbal information is presented visually or auditorially. Dual-coding has been extensively applied to current educational psychology research; Richard Mayer, in particular, has proposed and studied nine principles for using multi media for learning. (Mayer 2009). The results of his extensive quantitative research have many implications for instructional methods, and particular instructional material design in the field of Deaf Education.

Because visual learning is accepted as a vital factor in educating individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, studies extending Mayer’s research to include participants who are visual learners are essential. In fact, Mayer and those who apply his work to instructional material design in computer (e.g. Clark & Lyons, 2004; Clark, Nguyen & Sweller, 2006) specifically state that learners who are deaf or hard of hearing require further study. While as a profession, we make many assumptions about the value of our visual-emphasis teaching strategies and instructional materials, very little research exists to validate those assumptions. Mayer’s work provides a template for a body of research that could clarify a number of questions:

• Are current assumptions about the efficacy of instructional materials used with Deaf learners consistent with available research?
• What does Mayer’s research imply about current practices in creating instructional media for Deaf learners?
• To what extent do Deaf learners resemble learners with typical hearing when instructional materials are modified to use visual pathways for verbal information?


Clark, R. C. and Lyons, C. (2004). Graphics for learning. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer (John Wiley and Sons).
Clark, R. C., Nguyen, F. & Sweller, J. (2006) Efficiency in learning: Evidenced-based guidelines to manage cognitive load. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer (John Wiley and Sons).
Mayer, R. E. (2001). Multi-media learning. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. (2009 Edition now available)
Pavio, A. (1986). Mental representations: A dual coding approach. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

Visual Representation of Mayer's seven original principles of multi-media learning