Interest & Motivation

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Emotional Design in Multimedia Learning

The paper written by Um, Plass, Hayward and Homer focused on  how emotion can foster learning process. There are existing theories raised by various theorists such as “positive emotions strengthen motivation, whereas negative emotions can be detrimental to learning”(Eunjoon “Rachel” Um, Jan L. Plass, Elizabeth O. Hayward and Bruce D. Homer,P486).

Some theorists argued, like Harp & Mayer in Emotions as Extraneous Cognitive Load Hypothesis, that emotions will impose extraneous cognitive load and therefore hurt learning, while others came up with opposite Emotions as Facilitator of Learning Hypothesis, stressing that positive emotion can largely enhance learning. Due to the lack of evidence, additional research is needed to reveal the relationship between emotions and learning. Before conducting the study, the authors raised a new approach of inducing positive emotions since previous practices were not practical in real life learning situations. They decided to induce emotion through the multimedia learning environment itself with aesthetic design, which is named positive emotional design.

Design elements are thoughtfully considered such as color combination (e.g., red indicates high-stake tasks which should be avoided), visual shapes (e.g., baby-face bias).


The research team conducted an experiment which compared the effects of “traditional mood-induction tasks” with effect of “inducing positive emotions through the design of the learning environment itself” on 118 college student participants. Participants are divided randomly into 4 groups with different 2 levels of design factors.

Positive Design Neutral Design
Positive Mood-induction PEPD PEND
Neutral Mood-induction NEPD NEND

During experiments, in order to check participants’ emotions status, questionnaires are requested to be filled using Positive Affect Scale(PAS). There are also prior knowledge tests and comprehension and transfer tests to measure participants ability. Then the participants from different groups, which were under the different preconditions, were required to accomplish a learning lesson on “how immunization works”, which is a multimedia learning environment using different design patterns.


After the data was collected and analyzed according to PAS score, learning outcome referring to scores of tests, cognitive load and scores for motivation, learners’ perception of their learning experience, and learners’ satisfaction, the result drew the conclusion that positive emotions can facilitate learning. Enhancing long-term memory retrieval and working memory processes, positive emotions are not only helpful on a cognitive stage, but also beneficial to better learning outcomes.


Beyond Cold Conceptual Change

The article discusses the importance of considering motivational beliefs as mediators, and contextual factors as moderators of students’ conceptual change. It highlights the theoretical problems of a cold rational model of conceptual change that ignores the classroom context and expects students to think like scientists on the four basic conditions of conceptual change (dissatisfaction, understanding, plausibility, and fruitfulness).

The authors argue that conceptual change in students is greatly influenced not only by rational (cold) cognitive factors, but also by irrational (hot) factors, including the following four motivational constructs:Goal Orientation Beliefs, Interest and Value Beliefs, Self-Efficacy Beliefs, and Control Beliefs.

Goal Orientation Beliefs consist of Intrinsic goals and Extrinsic goals. Intrinsic goals include mastery (mastering the task) and task-involved orientation, which requires deeper processing strategies, such as elaboration, metacognitive and self-regulatory strategies. Extrinsic goals include performance (obtaining good grades) and ego-involved orientation, which are more likely to involve shallow, surface processing strategies.

Interest and Value Beliefs have a “profound effect on cognitive functioning and the facilitation of learning,” according to Hidi (as cited in Pintrich, Marx, & Boyle, 1993, p. 183).

The impacts of interest may come from the different interests and value beliefs that relate to both mastery and performance goals.

Self-Efficacy Beliefs can be explained as students’ confidence in their ability to do a certain task. Authors indicate a paradoxical role of prior knowledge in relation to self-efficacy beliefs. They doubt that a high level of self-efficacy belief (prior knowledge) can hinder conceptual change. On the contrary, a high level of confidence in one’s ability to change ideas flexibly can promote conceptual change. The authors describe this process as unfreezing of cognition in order to find specific cognitive closure.

Control Beliefs signify individuals’ belief about the degree of control they have over their behavior or performance. The positive correlations between control beliefs and students’ use of deep processing, metacognitive strategies, and their actual performance in class were reported by Pintrich (as cited in Pintrich, Marx, & Boyle, 1993, p. 188)

In conclusion, the article suggests the needs of reforming classrooms in order to empower students to become purposeful and enthusiastic learners.


Pintrich, P. R., Marx, R. W., & Boyle, R. A. (1993). Beyond cold conceptual change: The role of motivational beliefs and classroom contextual factors in the process of conceptual change. Review of Educational Research, 63, 167-199.


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