Global Educators Cohort Program - Teacher Education

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The researchers below have agreed to actively monitor the "Discussion" pages associated with their research efforts for a three week period starting Monday, February 16, and ending Friday, March 6, 2009. In order to facilitate a discussion of this work, information has been posted below. To discuss your questions, comments and suggestions with the researchers please:
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  • Topic: learning of science and mathematics knowledge via multimedia presentations of information
  • Title: Implications of Cognitive Load Research to Deaf and Hard of Hearing Learners: Organizing a large-scale cooperative research initiative”
  • Contact Information: Harold Johnson/Michigan State University 517 432-3926 & Malinda Eccarius/University of Nebraska 472-8259
  • Type of Research:
    • i.Qualitative
      ii. Quantitative
      iii. Mixed Design
      1. Stage 1 will begin with a qualitative analysis of existing printed and computer based curricular material and then evolve into
      Stage 2 with a series of experimental studies that replicates and extends the research of Mayer (2001, 2009) and his colleagues
  • Subject Pool:
    • i.Description, e.g., children, parents, teachers, etc.
      1. Stage 1: analysis of printed and computer based curricular material
      2. Stage 2: national sample of upper elementary age school age students who are deaf/hard of hearing. Sample to be identified and
      involved in the study via a distributed, Internet based model of subject identification and testing

      i. Setting, e.g., home, school, university, etc.
      1. school
      ii. Number, i.e., actual/projected/hoped for number of subjects
      1. Stage 1: N/A
      2. Stage 2: to be determined, albeit with sufficient number for random assignment to control and experimental groups
  • Research Description, i.e., document(s) that describe your current and/or projected research (see below)
  • Requested for all posted research:
    • a.URL for more information concerning posted research
      b. Collaborative opportunities within posted research
      i. Stage 1: identification and analysis of the most frequently used print and computer based curricular material (math & science focus)
      used with upper elementary U.S. students who are deaf/hard of hearing

      ii. Stage 2: [to be determined]
      c. Feedback sought concerning posted research
      i. Other individuals who are interested in this topic
      ii. Related literature base
      iii. Suggested methodological designs
      d. Grant “RFPs” opportunities related to posted research
      i. I.E.S. Cognition and Student Learning in Special Education (
      ii. NSF RFPs


Students who are deaf or hard of hearing (d/hh) perceive and understand the world via the use of both their language (ASL, English) and their interpretation of visual images (pictures, animation). As a result, regardless of the educational philosophy or communication modality being used, educators have the responsibility to present targeted academic knowledge and skills in a manner that their students can effectively perceive and understand. Such presentation includes the ability to effectively develop and use multimedia representations (print, narration, pictures and animation) to convey targeted academic knowledge and skills.

Lang (2005), in a review of literature concerning the science education of students who were d/hh, noted studies related to multimedia presentation. Deibold and Waldron (1988) found that highly pictorial content with simplified English text produced significantly higher pre- to posttest gain scores than formats with less pictorial content and more complex English patterns in the text. Dowaliby and Lang (1999), found that the combination of text with pictures, signs, and/or adjunct questions all resulted in significant gains in immediate factual learning over text alone, with adjunct questions accounting for the most gain. Lang and Steely (2003) found that interactive multimedia yielded significantly greater knowledge gains for deaf students as compared to traditional classroom experiences, suggesting that appropriate arrangement of text, ASL explanations and pictorial input from animation and graphic organizers can allow instructional programs for hearing students to be effectively adapted for use by students who are d/hh. As early as 1980, Reynolds and Booher found that instructional materials that were predominantly pictorial with ancillary verbal information were the most effective for deaf college students at that time.

A summary analysis of the cited research indicates that learning of individuals who are d/hh can be significantly enhanced when they are actively engaged in the comprehension and use of effective multimedia representations of key academic information.

While the importance of student engagement and effective multimedia representations for students who are d/hh has been consistently stated (Stewart & Kluwin, 2001; Moores & Martin, 2006), investigations have not been carried out concerning the extent to which teachers of students who are d/hh either have access to, or use, academic curricular material that incorporates effective multimedia design. This lack of empirical investigations is at least partially due to the complexity entailed in identifying the specific principles of an effective multimedia design.

Fortunately, Mayer (2001, 2009) has carried out an extended series of studies identifying multimedia principles that facilitate both recall and transfer of targeted information. He begins with the assumption that the learner has a finite capacity to store either pictorial information or verbal information, but eventually integrates the two during the learning process. The following visual summarizes Mayer’s findings through 2001.

However, Mayer’s research has potential limitations for the population of students who are d/hh. He worked entirely with individuals with typical hearing, only a few of whom were children. Pictorial information usually enters through the visual channel, but verbal information can enter initially though the auditory channel (speech, narration) or the visual channel (text, signed language) before being processed through the language centers of the brain and then integrated with the visual information. The process is complex, and needs to be investigated with children who are deaf or hard of hearing. However, the work cited earlier suggests that multimedia based instruction and multimedia principles have validity with this population.

Using Mayer’s principles, an initial research direction would be the examination of curriculum materials currently in use to teach math and science to children who are deaf or hard of hearing. To what extent do the materials conform to Mayer’s principles? Based on qualitative analysis of the materials through an evaluation rubric, we can make predictions about their effectiveness, and test those predictions in the second stage of the proposed research studies. During the second stage, the group can develop research models for students who are d/hh, and set up individual studies across a widely heterogeneous population of students who are d/hh. New predictions about the effectiveness of the principles, as well as needed modifications, based on this expanded population can then be tested in real classroom environments.


Diebold, T. J. & Waldron, M. B. (1988). Designing instructional formats: The effects of verbal and pictorial components on hearing-impaired students’ comprehension of science concepts. American Annals of the Deaf, 133, 30-35.

Dowaliby, F. & Lang, H. G. (1999). Adjunct aids in instructional prose: A multimedia study with deaf college students. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 4, 270-282.

Lang, H. G. & Steely, D. (2003). Web-based science instruction for deaf students: What research says to the teacher. Instructional Science, 31, 277-298.

Mayer, R. E. (2001). Multimedia Learning. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Mayer, R. E. (2009). Multimedia Learning: Second Edition. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Moores, D. and Martin, D. S. (2006) ?????

Reynolds, H. N. & Hooher, H. R. (1980). The effects of pictorial and verbal instructional materials on the operational performance of deaf subjects. Journal of Special Education, 14, 175-187.

Stewart, D. A. & Kluwin, T.N. (2001). Teaching deaf and hard of hearing students: Content, strategies and curriculum. Boston: Allyn and Bacon

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