Environmental support hypothesis in designing multimedia training for older adults: Is less always more?

Mariya Pachman*, Fengfeng Ke

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


This study explores younger and older adults learning of MS Publisher functionalities from a multimedia tutorial. Twenty younger and twenty three older adults assigned to a redundant (experimental) or non-redundant (control) condition were taught how to create a greeting card, while the results of their learning were assessed with immediate and delayed performance measures. While younger learners benefited from a non-redundant condition, older learners exhibited an opposite trend. Redundant condition was beneficial for their performance efficiency on a set of a transfer tasks, and their troubleshooting performance during the delayed session. From a cognitive load perspective, using a redundant text along with an audio narration overloads learner's working memory by placing more strain on the visual pathway and not providing any additional cognitive advantage. From an environmental support standpoint and decreased processing resources view of cognitive aging, providing additional representational support helps reducing the task demands for older adults and results in better learning. The results have cognitive and practical implications for the design of multimedia learning environments for older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100-110
Number of pages11
JournalComputers and Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes


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