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The College of Wooster

Transmediation and Technology in an Urban Classroom Setting

by Alexander J. Dorman

Presented in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements of Independent Study Thesis Research

Supervised by John G. Jewell, Ph.D. Department of Psychology 2013-2014


Table of Contents Acknowledgements ......................................................................................................................... 4 Abstract ........................................................................................................................................... 5 Introduction ..................................................................................................................................... 6 Transmediation ............................................................................................................................ 8 The Generative Process of Transmediation ............................................................................. 9 Theories of Transmediation ................................................................................................... 12 Drawing as a Sign System......................................................................................................... 13 The Talking Drawings Method.............................................................................................. 16 The Importance of Technology ................................................................................................. 18 Present Research ....................................................................................................................... 22 Method .......................................................................................................................................... 26 About the School ....................................................................................................................... 26 Research Participants ................................................................................................................ 26 Materials .................................................................................................................................... 27 Measures.................................................................................................................................... 28 Procedure ................................................................................................................................... 29 Research Design ........................................................................................................................ 31 Results ........................................................................................................................................... 32 Discussion ..................................................................................................................................... 33 Cognitive Load Theory ............................................................................................................. 36 Cognitive Load Theory and the Current Research ................................................................ 38 Cognitive Load Theory and Transmediation ......................................................................... 40 Future Research ......................................................................................................................... 41 Considerations for Future Research with this Population ..................................................... 43 Implications ............................................................................................................................... 44 Conclusion................................................................................................................................. 45 References ..................................................................................................................................... 46 Appendix A ................................................................................................................................... 52 Appendix B ................................................................................................................................... 56


Appendix C ................................................................................................................................... 58 Appendix D ................................................................................................................................... 59

TRANSMEDIATION AND TECHNOLOGY Acknowledgements First and foremost I would like to thank my loving family for their undying support with everything I do love you guys! I would also like to thank Ms. Allison Schecter, Ms. Christina Heffner, and Ms. Lisa Berlin for all their help with working at Baltimore Montessori Public Charter School, and of course the BMPCS middle school students for their participation in the project thanks for being such a joy to work with. I would like to give a special thanks to Ms. Dorman for making this project possible by acting as a liaison to BMPCS, and for being such a

strong helping hand. Finally, Id like to thank Dr. John Jewell for advising the project every step of the way, offering the hard advice I had to hear and providing the support I always needed.

TRANSMEDIATION AND TECHNOLOGY Abstract Thirty middle school students from the Baltimore Montessori Public School were recruited to test the effectiveness of a new teaching method on information acquisition and retention in an urban middle school classroom. The new method was designed to incorporate relevant technology to assist in the act of drawing as a means of organizing and further understanding novel information. Based on the theory of transmediation, it was hypothesized that this new teaching method would aid in the learning of a science based lesson plan. Improvement scores from pre-tests to post-tests were analyzed as a means of evaluating the effectiveness of the method. The hypothesis was not supported, and there was no significant difference in average improvement scores between the experimental drawing group and the control group. Cognitive load theory was used to provide a possible explanation for a trend in the data that suggests that the new method was potentially detrimental to the participants information acquisition and retention. Future directions and implications of this research are discussed.


Oh gross, really, just crack it? The B-Block sophomore biology class could not believe that the first step to dissecting a fetal pig was as barbaric as sticking a thumb into its mouth and separating its jaw from its head. Worksheets were passed out and pig stomachs split wide as Dr. Hilgartner taught the enthralled high school students mammalian anatomy. It was an experience not soon forgotten. This is just one example of the ways humans interact, communicate, and learn through a multitude of different sign systems. A sign system is any piece of information conveyed via auditory, visual, tactile, or proprioceptive stimuli (Semali, 2002; Short, Kauffman & Kahn, 2000). For instance, we read the descriptions of food on a menu to decide what to order, we organize flashing lights and colors to convey designated traffic patterns, and we try our hardest to gauge the body language of the new girl at work. We even dissect fetal pigs to further understand our own anatomy. Although seemingly obvious, there are countless ways information is conveyed. We utilize and interpret all of these sign systems to make sense of the world and the human experience (Siegel, 1995). Why is it then that the interactive lessons of Dr. Hilgartners B-block biology class are seemingly so rare? Classrooms dont need fetal pigs to plan lessons that encourage active learning. In the current research, touch screen technology is used to teach with multiple sign systems through a style of teaching known as the transmediation model. Students will be more willing to learn, will remember more information, and enjoy the experience much more than a typical verbocentric lesson. The transmediation model embraces the notion that we learn through multiple sign systems and encourages the translating of one sign system to another as a method of active learning (Hoyt, 1992; Semali, 2002; Siegel, 1995). For the first time this method of transmediating has been streamlined with the use of innovative new touch screen technology.


Unfortunately, our school systems tend to adhere to a verbocentric transmission model of teaching that focuses primarily on the language sign system (Semali, 2002; Short et al., 2000; Siegel, 1995). The University of Roehamptons Guide to Good Practice in Assessment (2013) describes the transmission model as: teachers just telling students what to learn. This method creates a strong dependency in the student on their teacher and relies heavily on the language sign system. By just being told information, students do not interact with the material and an interactive learning experience is sacrificed. The method can also teach students to not think critically or question what they learn. The transmission model, while popular, can be detrimental because it reinforces the idea that there is no ambiguity in learning and what the teacher says is final. This attachment to the transmission model needs to change because it perpetuates passive learning (Rollag & Billsberry, 2012; Siegel, 1995) and is often unrepresentative of the world outside of the classroom. Semali (2002) explains that, only a small percentage of human communication is verbal; a vast amount takes place on the nonverbal level (p. 7). Semali continues to say that only focusing on one form of communication ignores the developing skills of students such as critical viewing and critical authoring. The transmission model is most detrimental when it does not fit the learning style of a student (Hoyt, 1992; Short et al., 2000). Students learn and construct knowledge in different ways, and Vincent (2003) argues that these differences are based in a type of cognitive learning style. Various learning styles proposed include students who excel in artistic expression (Hoyt, 1992), students who excel in living media (such as social interactions) (Dauite, 1992), and students who have a strong preference for learning with visual media (Vincent, 2001). Dauite (1992) reports that access to different

TRANSMEDIATION AND TECHNOLOGY mediums of learning is at its highest in preschool, but once third and fourth grade hits students no longer have immediate access to pictures and sounds as sources of information. Transmediation

The notion that students all learn the same way has partially subsided, and there has been a growing body of research analyzing the different ways that students learn (Berk, 2009; Vincent, 2003). In trying to understand the ways that we learn, there has been a strong push to incorporate multimedia into our school systems. One reason for this shift is the influx of available innovative technology. Another reason for this shift is the understanding that memory, comprehension and understanding is enhanced when one processes information through multiple mediums instead of only one medium (Berk, 2009). Transmediation is the process of translating an understanding of information from one sign system to another. As mentioned before, a sign system is any stimuli that can convey information. The name transmediation literally means to mediate information across (trans) different sign systems (Hoyt, 1992; Semali, 2002; Siegel, 1995). Transmediation can be a very complicated process requiring lots of evaluation and analysis (Hoyt, 1992). In Siegels (1995) review of transmediation as a method for teaching, she describes the process in depth: Learners must rotate the content and expression planes of two different sign systems such that the expression plane of the new sign system conveys the content of the initial sign system. But because the expression plane is that of another sign system, the connection between the two sign systems must be invented, as it does not exist prior to the act of transmediation itself (p. 463). In theory there is no right or wrong way to transmediate, as long as the translating is done with meaning and purpose. Even when the translation between signs is done in the most literal sense, it is still up to the student to work with the information through their own interpretations.

TRANSMEDIATION AND TECHNOLOGY Examples of sign systems that have previously been used to transmediate include theatre/drama (Hoyt, 1992; Short et al., 2000), exact reenactment (Wesson & Salmon, 2001), sculpture (Hoyt, 1992), and music (Short et al., 2000), among others. The Generative Process of Transmediation

One of the key aspects of the verbocentric transmission model of teaching that stands in stark contrast to the transmediation model of teaching is the concept that information given is absolute. There is little room for questioning because there is no personal interpretation of information. In other words, what the teacher says is final. Transmediation on the other hand can be a powerful tool for teaching because by encouraging students to personally interpret information, a generative process of learning begins to take place (Chang, 2011; Chang, 2002; Foreman & Fyfe, 2012; Hoyt, 1992; Napoli, 2002; Semali, 2002; Short et al., 2000; Siegel, 1995; Whitin, 2002). A generative process of learning as a part of transmediation refers to students forming their own ideas about the information being learned, instead of just memorizing exactly what has been presented in its original form. This process is believed to occur because the act of transmediating between sign systems cannot be completed unless a student is thinking generatively. As described in a case study by Short et al., (2000): Because each sign system has a different potential for meaning, students do not transfer the same meaning, but create new ideas, and so their understandingsbecome more complex. They are not simply doing an activity or presentationbut instead use the sign systems as tools for thinking (p. 160).

This generative learning process manifests itself in a number of different ways through transmediation. In some situations, the process can lead to breakthroughs in understanding complicated information. For example, in one high school two students were struggling to



understand an article that focused on the ways in which math affected various social and political aspects of history. Instead of the teacher attempting to just explain the article, she instead suggested that the students construct a visual interpretation (an illustration) of the text. The two students were asked to explain their visual interpretations the next day. Through the act of transmediating between the sign systems of text and illustration, it had become clear that the students had transmediated the knowledge in a way that gave meaning to them. They had effectively shown how math was connected to numerous institutions by drawing a star that connected mathematics to five points that represented various institutions. While seemingly simple, by manipulating the material in such a way, the two students were able to gather a deeper understanding of what the article was conveying (Siegel, 1995). In another example, a sixth grade classroom was having trouble understanding the feelings associated with prejudice while learning about the Holocaust. Instead of attempting to lecture on the content of the topic, the teacher prompted the students to transmediate from verbal information, to illustrated information, to acted out information. This was achieved by having the students individually create dramas that would portray prejudice and then form groups to act out the student-created plays (Short et al., 2000). Regarding this learning process, Short et al.(2000) noted, the dramas allowed students to cross the lines of friendship, ability, and ethnicity in their relationships and to gain deeper insights about prejudice (p. 165). The generative process of transmediation can also help create a more holistic understanding of information for the student. As the student translates information between sign systems, attention to details can guide the student to see the information in a new light. This focused attention to detail occurs naturally from transmediating information meaningfully from one sign system to another. A great example of creating this holistic understanding through



transmediation comes from a group of young students from the Reggio Emelia School in Italy, a school specializing in alternative teaching and learning styles. The students were interested in sunflowers they had previously planted that had just bloomed. The teacher instructed the students to create detailed drawings of what they saw. This activity encouraged the students to notice details they otherwise may have missed. The teacher then instructed the students to draw what they believed to be the process of a seed turning into a flower. From these drawings, the teacher was able to then engage the students in their theories of seed growth (Foreman & Fyfe, 2012). This exercise went from interested observation to meaningfully recreating and manipulating information. It allowed the students to pay attention to details and actively think about complex information, while giving the teachers an idea of how to approach new material (Forman & Fyfe, 2012). In a low-functioning classroom populated with reluctant-readers in Oregon, one student decided to create a clay sculpture of an elephant. However he quickly realized that he was unsure of how to sculpt an accurate depiction of an elephant. Without further prompting the student preceded to utilize resources such as reference books and the knowledge of his fellow students in order to create an accurate sculpture. Regarding this instance, Hoyt (1992) observes through a variety of expressive arts, these young learners were able to process meaning in ways that allowed them to deepen and expand their understanding (p. 581). In some cases, teachers utilize the generative process of transmediation to breech new ideas and information entirely. Napoli (2002) found in her kindergarten classroom that she was able to explore gender stereotypes with her students at a very young age. After talking about the topic for quite some time, she asked her students to draw a picture of their parents and the roles their parents played in their family. While working with the students and their drawings, she was

TRANSMEDIATION AND TECHNOLOGY able to talk with them about why they drew their mothers doing some activities, and why they


drew their fathers doing different activities. Through this process of having the children express their perceptions of gender in this manner, a dialogue that was previously less assessable became more available to the students. This classroom experiment was done in the context of teaching young readers to be critical of texts. Napoli believed that transmediating between the texts her students were listening to and images the students created would help them generate new ideas and think critically. Theories of Transmediation

There are multiple theories as to why the process of transmediation can be so effective and such a generative process. Chang (2011) argues that transmediation works because it is important to put abstract concepts into a medium that can be more accessible for students. Doing so functions as an enabling tool to make sense of the information received. Chang further explains that learning can only occur through assimilation and accommodation of previous knowledge. Short et al., (2000) expands off of this idea stating that new meanings to information are created as the learners understanding is enhanced, and Hoyt (1992) asserts that learning occurs when one creates a personal interpretationThe important point is that the individual personalizes the information and internalizes a connection between what is new and what is already known (p. 584). Siegel (1995) incorporates all of these ideas by stating that learning cannot be reduced to the transmission of knowledge from an expert to a novice (the transmission model), but instead learning must be a social process in which students are actively constructing their own interpretations of understanding of new information. Siegel (1995)

TRANSMEDIATION AND TECHNOLOGY continues to explain that because transmediating is not a straight forward process, an enquiry-


oriented classroom is a natural byproduct of encouraging students to work with information in their own way (p.456) . It is important to note that the generative process of transmediation works at all ages in the school system: kindergarten, elementary school, high school, and even undergraduate students (McConnell, 1993). Drawing as a Sign System Drawing is a very accessible sign system. [Drawing] engages childrens natural inclination to take pencil to paper, thereby using art as a vehicle to express content knowledge. (Paquette, Fello & Jalongo, 2007, p. 73). Furthermore, drawing is a comfortable medium that in general is embraced by almost all students, from younger learners in elementary school (Chang, 2012; Chang, 2011; Paquette et al., 2007) to university students (McConnell, 1993; Scott & Weishaar, 2008). McConnell (1993) explains that drawing can be so comfortable because rarely do people criticize each other on artistic ability, while the same cannot be said for the criticizing of ones literary capabilities. Drawing has also been observed as a way to excite students and relieve them of boredom (Chang, 2002), especially when compared to a task that involves writing as a sole method of response (Paquette et al., 2007). Therefore, incorporating drawing into the learning process can be a strong motivator for children to learn (Chang, 2012; McConnell, 1993; Scott & Weishaar, 2008). Chang (2012) hypothesizes that this motivation is a result of the association between the positive emotions of the learner and how effectively he or she will learn. This hypothesis implies that the more positive a student feels about learning, the more effectively they will learn, thus motivating them to do so. Drawing is also known to be a confidence booster in the classroom



(Chang, 2011). At the very least, the act of drawing has been found to more successfully hold the attention of younger students in a learning/testing environment when compared to students performing identical tasks without a drawing component (Gross, Hayne & Drury, 2009). Drawings can also be used as a powerful tool for students to express their thoughts and understanding of information (Chang, 2012; Chang, 2011; Hall, 2009; Paquette et al., 2007). Hall (2009) theorizes that this ease in expression comes from the flexibility offered in the openended task of drawing, which stands in contrast with other sign systems that follow stricter rules, such as speech which is governed by the rules of phonetics. Students can feel more comfortable exploring their thoughts through drawing, therefore their visual representations become important for teachers because the drawings provide a strong insight into what the student understands and how new information is being processed. Chang (2011) demonstrated this idea with a student who was having trouble drawing an accurate representation of a bug, a childs inability to visualize a concept in his or her head reveals a lack of an understanding of an object or a living thing conceptually (p. 626). In noticing that this student could not draw an accurate representation of a bug, Chang was able to assess what was going on in his or her head. In a study conducted by Bebel & Kay (2009), the researchers were interested to see the students perceptions of technology in their classrooms and in their learning experiences. They collected data by having students draw themselves working in their classrooms. By analyzing the drawings, the researchers were able to gauge how students saw the role technology played in their education. This study gave the researchers an insight into the childrens thinking in a way that could potentially have been more difficult for the children to verbalize. Apart from giving the teachers insight into the students thinking, drawing also allows the student to become very self-aware of his or her own knowledge by empowering the student to



participate in his or her own learning experience (Paquette et al., 2007; Scott & Weishaar, 2008). Drawing is also a versatile tool because unlike other sign systems such as reading or writing, drawing requires no previous training or practice (Butler, Gross & Hayne, 1995). This makes it particularly helpful when working with students who struggle with reading and writing (Hibbing & Rankin-Erikson, 2003; Paquette et al., 2007) and students with special learning needs (Chang, 2011). Aside from drawing being a fun, accessible, and motivating tool, evidence shows that drawing can be utilized to help the memory in recalling information (Butler et al., 1995; Patterson & Hayne, 2009; Wesson & Salmon, 2001). It is also important to note that in situations where drawing was not found to play a significant role in aiding memory it was also found to not impede memory either (Butler et al., 1995; Gross et al., 2009). The research in this field tends to focus on the use of drawings during memory recall for applied settings such as legal contexts, therapy for sexual abuse, and clinical assessments and treatments (Butler et al., 1995; Patterson & Hayne, 2009). However the same principles could apply to a classroom setting. Drawing is hypothesized to help organize knowledge, thoughts, and experiences as well (Chang, 2011; Chang, 2002; Hoyt, 1992; McConnell, 1993). The Reggio Emelia School located in Italy has built its curriculum around this concept. As Chang (2002) explains it, one of the purposes for children to engage in artis to organize their experiences. (p. 51) Chang (2011) echoes this idea, stating that the principal purpose of drawing integration is to encourage childrens collaborative efforts and/or to organize their thoughts for next-step actions in reference to a project. (p. 624). In many ways drawing can be likened to taking notes for organizational purposes.



The act of drawing as a positive influence on memory recall and mental organization can be explained through the lens of transmediation. Through the generative processes of transmediation, new ways of understanding and manipulating information can help organize the students knowledge, thoughts, and experiences. This organization of information can then help with memory recall by making the information a personal interpretation. In addition, it is important to note that for the purposes of transmediating, artistic talent plays no role in the process. What matters is the intent of the representation of the information; not how well it was drawn (Chang, 2011). Conclusively, because drawing is such an accessible and motivating sign system of expression, it makes sense to utilize drawing as the sign with which the participants in the present study will transmediate. The Talking Drawings Method

There is currently a method of teaching that embraces drawing as a valuable tool in education called talking drawings (McConnell, 1993). Multiple case studies and reviews have implemented the talking drawings method (or slight variations of it) in a variety of different classrooms settings with success (Hibbing & Rankin-Erikson, 2003; McConnell, 1993; Paquette et al., 2007; Scott & Weishaar, 2008; Whitin, 2002). The method was stumbled upon accidentally as a way to liven up a discouraged class. On a whim professor Suzanne McConnell asked the students in her adult literacy class to draw what they knew about rainforests instead of writing down everything they knew. Her students immediately embraced the new task. Soon enough, her class was active and interested in the material at hand, going out of their way to learn more about rainforests in order to create more accurate drawings. The talking drawings method had begun. (McConnell, 1993).

TRANSMEDIATION AND TECHNOLOGY While McConnell (1993) ironed out and first implemented the method, Paquette at al.


(2007) give a very concise step by step summary which breaks down the method into a six step process: 1. The first step is to pick an area of content, a topic, or a concept to focus on. 2. The second step is to have the students mentally visualize what they think they know regarding the chosen area of content. The students then pictorially represent that mental visualization by drawing their first picture. 3. The third step involves the students sharing and discussing their drawings with a partner. During this stage it is important that the students focus on explaining their drawings instead of having their partner interpret them. 4. In the fourth step the teacher instructs on the concept or topic. 5. In the following fifth step, the teacher has the students revisit their original drawings. The students are encouraged to either create another drawing, or modify their original one based off of their newly acquired knowledge. 6. The sixth and final step entails the students discussing with their partners and amongst the rest of the class the differences in their previous lecture drawings and post lecture drawings. This dialogue is important because it allows for the students to reflect on and compare their personal learning experience with their peers experience. This also allows students to become very aware of how their knowledge grew as they can see their drawings represent more accurate information (p. 66). The method was originally developed in an adult literacy program, and therefore its main focus was working with struggling older readers. There are many suggested applications of the talking drawings method. The method can be used with numerous content areas and subjects, such as the solar system, living creatures, and greenhouse gases, as well as to teach aspects of literature like fictitious characters and settings. The method has also been utilized to cover complex information within fields such as science and social studies (Chang, 2011; McConnell, 1993; Paquette et al., 2007). The talking drawings method introduces complex information in a fun and novel way while helping the student to organize their thoughts. The method also serves as a way for students to assess their knowledge of a new topic as they take their ideas and put them into a



drawn visual form (McConnell, 1993; Paquette et al., 2007). The success of this method makes sense in the context of the organizational power of drawing and the generative processes of transmediation. The talking drawings method is also very versatile. As Paquette et al. (2007) explain, Talking drawings is sufficiently flexible to meet diverse student needs when teaching and learning about expository texts (p. 73). Meeting the diverse needs of students in the classroom is obviously important for overall success of the classroom and its students. As mentioned previously, it is hypothesized that there are multiple types of learners. Cognitive Psychologist Howard Gardner goes so far as to say there are eight types of intelligences that comprise a single persons cognitive sphere, and no two humans share the same intelligence makeup (Gardner, 2011). By diversifying teaching methods, one can hope to cater to many different types of learners. In making other means of expression such as drawing available, and not solely relying on the language sign system, this method gives children who struggle with language an outlet in which they can share their thoughts (Short et al., 2000). Short et al., (2000) summarize this concept by insisting that everyone has a right to his or her own experience in the learning process. The Importance of Technology

It is crucial for teachers to stay relevant in the classroom, and one of the most significant developments in education over the last generation is the computer. The computer has been described as the most widely acclaimed technological accomplishment, and because of this invention there has been an increased need for information to be delivered via multiple mediums that a computer could support (Mayer, 2005; Reich & Daccord, 2008). In the book Integrating

TRANSMEDIATION AND TECHNOLOGY Technology: A Practical Guide, authors Lengel & Lengel (2006) explain that there has been a revolution in the last twenty years with regards to how we collect, store, work with, and access


all types of information. If teachers are not able to stay afloat with the influx of new technology by finding ways to bring new technological innovations into the classroom, students may experience a strong disconnect between the classroom and the world in which they live in (Lee & Winzenried, 2009; Lengel & Lengel, 2006). A disconnect from the world and school can have many negative implications. In a survey conducted by Raine & Lenhart (2002) for the Pew Foundation titled The Digital Disconnect: The Widening Gap Between Internet-savvy Students and their Schools, the authors discovered that students reported school as less useful and less relevant compared to students who had completed the same survey five and ten years before them. They also found that the students saw their school work as less meaningful, more uninteresting, and more unhelpful now than students had been in the past (Lengel & Lengel, 2006; Raine & Lenhart, 2002). However closing the digital disconnect gap is not as simple as it may seem. Integrating new technology into the learning experience has often been avoided or underutilized (Rollag & Billsberry, 2012; Vincent, 2003). As explained by Price (2007), integrating computers into the classroom is not a straightforward automatic process that one can do intuitively. Berk (2009) acknowledges this struggle to stay relevant with technology in the classroom, stating that by the time the reader sees his publication it will already be out of date, that is the nature of the technology beast (p. 5). Regardless, it is the teachers responsibility to create an atmosphere for learning with the right mix and proper use of technology (Price, 2007). Unfortunately the majority of schools have yet to utilize technology to its fullest potential, which perpetuates the digital disconnect gap between the classroom and the rest of the world.

TRANSMEDIATION AND TECHNOLOGY Consequently, to the student surrounded by technology in most other aspects of their lives, it would make sense that school would seem obsolete (Lee & Winzenried, 2009). However some argue that integrating technology into the classroom has become a more stable process and teachers are generally becoming increasingly more knowledgeable of new technologies (Price, 2007; Rollag & Billsberry, 2012).


When implemented correctly, computers can be excellent tools for teaching and learning. In many ways computers are the perfect tool for integrating the theory of transmediation into teaching. Computers are inherently conducive to multimodal presentation, meaning that information can easily be presented and learned through a wide array of sign systems (Foreman, 2012; Reich & Daccord, 2008; Vincent, 2003). This is crucial because the ability to transmediate is developed, honed and utilized best when the student is immersed in a multimedia environment (Semali, 2002). Daiute (1992) illustrates the multimedia capabilities of working with a computer to learn and create: Several characteristics of the computer make it an appropriate work space for multimedia composing by older children. First, several media can be integrated in the computer-the young writers composing screen can include moving or still images, a button that can be pushed for sound, and several sections for text. In addition, electronic drawing, cutting, and pasting tools allow the child to transform images, sounds, and texts (pp. 253-254). As seen in Daiutes example, the generative process of transmediation still occurs while students are working with computers. In the book The Hundred Languages of Children, Foreman (2012) provides an example of the generative process occurring in a lesson where his students used computer software to instruct insects onscreen to move in certain flight paths based off of the students directions. He explains that by having the students interact with the material through multiple signs the students saw the information in different ways. The text gave

TRANSMEDIATION AND TECHNOLOGY background and substance to the animating activity, but the animating activity filled in the informational gaps where the text left off. Due to the computers capability to work with countless modes of sign systems in its presentation of information, computers are invaluable tools for teaching and learning because they can cater to many different learning styles (Vincent, 2003). Many students who found the


transmission model of teaching difficult had an enhanced learning experience through the use of computers and multimodal software. It is hypothesized that this is because multimodal computer software provides structure to working between sign systems which helps with knowledge construction (Vincent, 2003; Vincent, 2001). An important aspect of utilizing computers in the classroom that must be understood is how dynamic of a medium they are. For instance, once a book is written, it does not change and the information is there virtually forever. There is no way to interactively work with the writing. Yet the computer is an experience that is always changing. There is new software, automatic updates, access to the ever changing internet, and many more constantly changing components, making using a computer never an inherently dynamic cexperience (Lengel & Lengel, 2006). This dynamism is beneficial to teaching and learning because it is crucial that ones teaching methods stay relevant, and a medium that can easily adapt can be very helpful. However one complaint Lee & Winzenried (2009) make about the implementation of new technology is the lack of understanding regarding the technical and the human variables involved. It doesnt matter how dynamic the learning tool is if it is being implemented poorly. Richard Mayer (2005) argues in The Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning that computers have fallen down the same path as radio and television, two other mediums that were supposed to revolutionize education: we took a technology centered approach instead of a human centered approach. This means that



instead of adapting these potential tools for learning to humans needs, teachers and students were asked to adapt themselves to the computers. The focus was on giving people access to the latest technology rather than helping people to learn through the aid of technology (Mayer, 2005, p. 9). Technology should be developed in a way that is consistent with how the human mind works in order to encourage and assist learning instead of forcing humans to try and make technology work for them. With this in mind, it is important to remember that we are living in a digitized world, and our school system should not be lagging behind (Lengel & Lengel, 2006; Mayer, 2005; Raine & Lenhart, 2002). Yet just imposing new technology onto the school system is not the answer either (Lengel & Lengel, 2006; Mayer, 2005; Price, 2007). New technologies should be developed in accordance with how human cognition works, and the transmediation model has been shown to be a successful method of teaching and learning. Stewart, Houghton & Rogers (2012) concisely summarize this idea stating that, Though greater appreciation to what goes on in the classroom is important, we must resist the desire to implement course revisions without rigorous examination of their potential impact (p. 773). Present Research

The present research seeks to empirically test a modified version of the talking drawings method that utilizes the use of modern technology. The method is delivered through an interactive computer experience consisting of using a swiveling touch screen laptop and a stylus that allows participants to draw on the screen. Utilizing key components of the talking drawings method, students will be given the opportunity to draw their mental representations of novel information before learning the material, and after leaning the material. This will allow students

TRANSMEDIATION AND TECHNOLOGY to visually watch their knowledge expand as their drawings become more detailed with more information (McConnell, 1993; Paquette et al., 2007). As the participants work through their mental representations of the information in preparation to draw, they will personalize the information, drawing unique understandings and conclusions for themselves. This is the generative process of transmediation in action. As the


participant transmediates from written sign systems into pictorial sign systems, it is hypothesized that the participants will be able to organize and store the information more effectively than if they had not been transmediating. This should naturally lead to increased retention of the information. Many studies have found similar results when incorporating transmediation into their lessons (Chang, 2011; Chang, 2002; Foreman & Fyfe, 2012; Hoyt, 1992; Napoli, 2002; Semali, 2002; Short et al., 2000; Siegel, 1995; Whitin, 2002). It is important to remember that regardless of the effectiveness of a method a student cannot be forced to participate and learn. If the participant completely ignores the drawing instructions and chooses to skip the reading, there is nothing that can be done. It is hypothesized however that the inherent fun of drawing will override any potential boredom with the presentation. Ideally, the participant will find the presentation more than just bearable, but enjoyable and motivating. This would be concurrent with the multitude of other published research and case studies that found that the inclusion of drawing to an activity made the activity more enjoyable and motivating (Chang, 2012; Gross et al., 2009; Hall, 2009; McConnell, 1993; Scott & Weishaar, 2008). So it is hypothesized that the presentation will be interesting enough for the participants that they will choose to engage in the presentation.

TRANSMEDIATION AND TECHNOLOGY This research also comes at a crucial time in American education. Losen and Skiba (2010) of UCLAs Civil Rights Project analyzed the rates of suspension as a disciplinary measure in urban setting middle schools. They found a number of alarming trends: in most


school districts analyzed, rates of suspension had doubled proportionately since the 1970s. These rates are still increasing. The researchers also found that there was no evidence to show that minority students misbehave more than white students, but the data did show that minority students, specifically African Americans, were the most likely to be suspended (Skiba, Michael, Nardo & Peterson, 2002, as cited in Losen & Skiba, 2010). The researchers concluded that minority populations were being robbed of the opportunity to learn at much higher rates than the rest of the population (Losen & Skiba, 2010). It is clear that while suspension rates are rising, urban middle schools in America need to be improved. In light of Losen and Skibas (2010) findings, it is imperative when conducting educational research that a racially diverse participant population is strived for, because it is evident that the middle school experience is potentially different amongst different races. Therefore data will only be relevant if truly representative of the population. Of equal importance to conducting research with racially diverse populations, is conducting research with socioeconomically diverse populations. Trisha Bishop (2013), a reporter for The Baltimore Sun, published an article in the summer of 2013 calling attention to the lack of socioeconomic diversity in research with children. In the article, researchers from Johns Hopkins University and University of Maryland weighed in on why it can be a challenge to include subjects from lower socioeconomic classes in their research. These researchers cited reasons such as complications with transportation and a general lack of trust in the researchers. Due to these reasons, the overwhelming majority of participant populations come from the

TRANSMEDIATION AND TECHNOLOGY middle and upper socioeconomic classes. This is problematic, especially in areas of research such as child development. Without representative populations, it is likely that phenomena and trends will be missed. In the article, a researcher named Dr. Lillard cited a pertinent example showcasing the need for representative populations: [There is] research that shows children in


poorer households are spoken to less, which impedes their cognitive development. We wouldn't know that if people hadn't gone into the homes and recorded how much language there was (p. 1). The participant population of the current population is a diverse and relatively representative sample of the families of Baltimore because its participant population is coming from a public charter school where everyone has the same chance of admittance. With a strong theoretical background and a truly diverse population, it is hypothesized that this new method of conveying information will prove to be successful. In an effort to shrink the digital disconnect gap by incorporating touch screen technology, it is hypothesized that the participants will find the method appealing and relevant because much of the technology they encounter everyday utilizes similar features. By integrating drawing into the presentation, it is hypothesized that students will be inherently interested in the presentation. Through the generative process of transmediation, it is hypothesized that the participants will formulate their own thoughts and connections with the information being presented, which will aid them in the organization and memorization of the information. It is ultimately hypothesized that all of these factors combined will result in improved performance amongst the participants in the experimental condition.



Method About the School

Research was conducted at the Baltimore Montessori Public Charter School, located in the Station North neighborhood of Baltimore Maryland. The school is unique in providing the traditionally private Montessori educational experience in a public school setting. Admission is available to everyone who is a resident of Baltimore city. Enrollment to the program is based off of a lottery system, creating an equal opportunity for all who apply. The school services grades kindergarten through eighth grade, and allows students to enroll at any grade. Research Participants

The sample consisted of 30 middle school students in seventh grade and eight grade (57% female). One student (n=1) had to be removed as a research participant due to absences on data collection days. The participants came from two homeroom classrooms, Ms. Dorman (n=19) and Ms. Heffner (n=11). The participant sample was both racially and socioeconomically diverse. Racial and ethnic background was not directly asked, but according to the 2012 school profile collected by Baltimore City Public Schools, 53% of the middle school students identified as black while 42% identified as white (BCPS, 2012). Socioeconomic information was not directly asked, but again according to the 2012 public profile, 41% of the middle school students come from low-income families, as determined by eligibility for the Free and Reduced Meals (FARM) program (BCPS, 2012). This is a method used by Baltimore City Public Schools to identify low-income families (BCPS, 2013). Participation was entirely voluntary, and every middle school student was given the opportunity to participate. Participation had no effect on



class standing. Participants received direct benefit for participating in the study by helping raise money for the BMPCS middle school Adventure Trip. For every student who participated, ten dollars was donated by the principle researcher. This money lowered the individual cost of attendance for the trip. Each student was randomly assigned into either the experimental drawing group (n=15) or the control group (n=15). Materials

The learning presentation medium was created in Microsoft Office PowerPoint 2007. The presentation was presented on the Toshiba Portg M700, a touch screen computer with a swiveling screen that can be used as a laptop or a tablet. A stylus designed to work with the touch screen was also utilized for the drawing portions of the presentation. The lesson that was given in the presentation is an adaptation of the lesson plan What Parts of the Plant do We Eat? by Dr. Doherty and Dr. Spindler (2009) of the biology department at the University of Pennsylvania. Information about plant parts was taken from the teacher preparation notes and put into a PowerPoint format. Ms. Dorman, a licensed teacher with special accreditation by the American Montessori Society to teach a Montessori middle school classroom, reviewed and edited the presentation in regards to accessibility to the participants and quality of the lesson. There are two versions of the presentation: the experimental version and the control version. The experimental version of the presentation includes 24 slides in total. There are three types of slides in the presentation. The first of these is the pre-drawing slide; on this slide the participant is prompted to draw something related to the lesson (e.g. Draw a picture of a plant stem). The second type of slide is the information slide, which presents information pertaining to what the participants are being prompted to draw. The final type of slide the participant will

TRANSMEDIATION AND TECHNOLOGY encounter will be the post-drawing slide. On this slide the participant will be prompted to draw something related to the lesson after having just learned about it (e.g. draw a picture of a plant stem with your new knowledge). To ensure that participants have enough time with the information, there is no time limit with how a participant can spend on any of the slides. To try and curb participants from skipping slides and not reading the information, there is a minimum amount of time that must be spent on each slide. For pre-drawing slides the participant must


spend at least 15 seconds drawing. For information slides the participant must spend at least 20 seconds with the material. For post-drawing the participant must spend at least 30 seconds drawing. The time minimum is indicated by an arrow that appears automatically in the bottom right corner after the prescribed amount of time. The drawing will take place on the touch screen, and the PowerPoint can be navigated using the directional keys on the keyboard or with the touch screen (see Appendix A for the full experimental presentation). The control presentation is comprised of information slides identical to the experimental presentation in content and time length. However the control presentation has no drawing portion to it. The touch screen function will not be needed for this version of the presentation, and the PowerPoint will be navigated using the direction keys on the keyboard. Measures

A pre-test and post-test consisting of 15 multiple choice questions was used to assess how learning and memory was affected by the different presentation types. The test focused solely on material covered in the presentation. Ms. Dorman reviewed and gave suggestions in regards to accessibility of the test to the participants, and quality of the test. There was no difference between the pre-test and the post-test. The tests were administered to collect the participants



improvement in scores between the pre-test and post-test after interacting with the presentation. The participants were never informed of their scores on either test (see Appendix B for the pretest/post-test). A survey was administered to collect information regarding the experience of using the presentation. The survey consisted of twelve questions on a 5-point Likert Scale. Eight of the twelve questions were taken from a survey created by Rockwell & Singleton (2007). Rockwell & Singleton (2007) used the survey to assess the effects of audio and video in the information acquisition process in the classroom. The survey is fitting for the current research because it was designed to gather information on the participants opinions of various teaching methods. Examples of questions asked include: I learned a lot from this presentation and The presentation was boring. The last four questions of the survey were created specifically for the purpose of this research to assess the participants access to technology and the participants comfort with technology (see Appendix C for the full survey). Participants received a debriefing form upon completion of the research. Procedure

Participants were initially contacted about this research by the BMPCS middle school teachers Ms. Dorman and Ms. Heffner. Consent forms were sent home with students to be reviewed and signed by parents or legal guardians if the student was interested in participating. The consent forms were collected and stored by Ms Heffner and Ms. Dorman in a locked filing cabinet. Once consent forms were collected from all interested students the primary researcher administered the pre-test to every participant on January 7th 2014 and January 9th 2014. Participants wrote their names on the top tear-off section of the pre-test. Pre-tests were stored in

TRANSMEDIATION AND TECHNOLOGY a locked brief case. The pre-test took approximately 10 minutes to complete. Once all pre-tests were collected, students were randomized into the experimental condition or the control


condition. On January 23rd 2014 and January 24th 2014, the primary researcher set up at BMPCS in a room adjacent to the middle school classrooms and began with data collection. A teaching assistant helped with the process at all times and worked as an aid when working with the students. Participants were seen individually at the convenience of both teachers schedules. Participants were all greeted and made to feel welcome. Verbal assent was requested and participants were reminded that they could stop at anytime if they wanted and that their participation with the research had no influence on their school career. All participants assented and no participants chose to stop until they were finished. If the participant was in the experimental condition the primary researcher took time to familiarize the student with the touch screen drawing technology and using the stylus. As expected, almost all participants in the experimental group expressed some familiarity with the touch screen technology, and the familiarizing process was usually very brief. The basic structure of the presentation was explained to them, with a focus on following the time minimums conveyed on each slide. The primary researcher made it clear that he would not interfere in any way with the participant or the presentation while it was happening. With few exceptions the experimental presentation took about 20 minutes to complete. The participant took the post-test immediately after completing the presentation. After the posttest the participant filled out the short survey regarding the experience. The post-test and the survey took about 10 minutes to complete. The process in total took approximately 30 minutes to 40 minutes. After the post-test and survey were completed the student was debriefed and the thanked. The participants were asked to refrain from speaking with their peers about the

TRANSMEDIATION AND TECHNOLOGY presentation in order to create an equal experience for everyone who participated. The pre-test,


post-test, and survey were then stapled together. The name of the participant was changed into a number and the name on the pre-test was torn off, effectively making the data anonymous. Raw physical data was stored in a locked briefcase. If the participant was in the control condition, the process mirrored the experimental condition with the exception that there was no need to familiarize the participant with the touch screen and stylus. Because there is no drawing portion to the control presentation, the presentation only took about 10 minutes. The process in total took about 20 minutes to 25 minutes. The participant was debriefed and thanked upon finishing, and their data was made anonymous and stored in the locked briefcase. Only once all the data had been collected were pre-tests and post-tests scored. At this point the students were told they were allowed to talk to their peers about the experience. Students were also reminded to speak with either Ms. Dorman or Ms. Heffner in person or email the primary researcher if they had any questions. Research Design

The sample of 30 middle school students from BMPCS was utilized based on convenience of access to these students. This is similar in sample size to previous research utilizing comparable methods to test the benefits of new technology in the classroom (Chang, Wu & Hsu, 2013). Data was analyzed using an independent samples t-test to compare score improvement (from pre-test to post-test) for the experimental drawing condition versus the control condition. Using the improvement of scores from a pre-test to a post-test to analyze a new teaching or learning tool has been successfully utilized before as a way to judge that tools

TRANSMEDIATION AND TECHNOLOGY effectiveness (Chang et al., 2013; Lara-Alecio et al., 2012; Plass et al., 2013; Rockwell & Singleton, 2007). All data was collected and organized in Microsoft Excel and analyzed using SPSS version 21.


Results Before analyzing improvement scores between the experimental drawing group (n=15) and the control group n=15), prior knowledge of the subject matter was assessed. An independent samples t-test was conducted to compare pre-test scores between the experimental drawing group (M = 9.2, SD = 2.48) and the control group (M = 8.93, SD = 2.09); t(28) = .32, p = .75. Prior knowledge of the subject matter was not different for either group. The effectiveness of the learning presentation was determined by examining the improvement between pre-test scores to post-test scores. A one-tail independent samples t-test was conducted to compare the average improvement in scores between the experimental drawing group (M = 2.80, SD = 1.70) and the control group (M = 3.80, SD = 1.74); t(28) = -1.59, p = .061. There was no significant difference in scores between the experimental drawing group and the control group. However the data suggests that the difference in scores was approaching significance in the opposite direction, i.e. the experimental drawing condition was having a negative impact on performance. While not the primary intent of the study, a survey that gauged the participants opinions of the experience was administered after completing the post-test. The survey also gathered information on the participants technology use. Surveys from two participants had to be omitted because they were not complete (n=28). Responses to questions #1 - #11 were answered on a 5point Likert scale: 1 meaning I strongly disagree and 5 meaning I strongly agree. The last



question was answered either yes or no. Multiple independent samples t-tests were conducted to analyze the mean responses of each group. There were no significant differences found between the experimental drawing group and the control group for any question on the survey. The survey data did provide insight to the participants relationship with technology. All participants who completed the survey (n=28) reported having access to the internet at home. The majority of participants (n=27) reported that they felt comfortable using the internet (M = 4.96, SD = .19), with the exception of one participant who explained on the survey s/he was uncomfortable with the internet because of the NSA. Participants (n=28) also overwhelmingly replied that they strongly agreed that they felt comfortable using computers (M = 4.96, SD = .19).

Discussion Based on the data collected, the primary hypothesis that the inclusion of a drawing activity into a digital learning presentation would aid in the learning process was not supported. The theorized positive effects of transmediation, and its generative process as an organizational tool for learning did not aid the experimental drawing group with their acquisition of information. The potentially positive effects of including drawing into an activity to aid in the information acquisition process were also unsupported. The data collected was inconclusive as to whether or not enjoyment of the presentation had any effect on test score improvement. There was no significant difference in average improvement scores between the experimental drawing group and the control group. This means there was no evidence that the inclusion of the drawing activity had the desired effect to facilitate the participants ability to organize and retain the novel information. However, the data did reveal a pattern in which the



inclusion of the drawing activity had a potentially detrimental effect. The average improvement score for the experimental drawing group was lower than the average improvement score for the control group. Although there was not a significant difference, the effect was in a different direction than predicted. These results stand in contrast with previous research that shows even when the inclusion of drawing was not found to be helpful to memory, it was not found to be a hindrance either (Butler et al., 1995; Gross et al., 2009). As predicted, the participants did indicate enjoying the activity of drawing. Numerous participants inquired about an eraser function, and a few asked if they were able to use different colors. On the survey, when the participants were asked if they thought the presentation was enjoyable, the characteristic response of the drawing group was neutral and mildly agree, and when they were asked if they thought that the presentation was boring they typically responded strongly disagree and mildly disagree. This is consistent with previous research on the inclusion of drawing with learning activities (Chang, 2012; Chang, 2011; McConnell, 1993; Paquette et al., 2007, Scott & Weishaar, 2008; Van Meter and Garner, 2005). Yet the lack of significant improvement in post test scores when compared to a control group stands in contrast to previous research that found drawing to be a way for students to help organize and express their thoughts (Chang, 2011; Chang, 2002; Hoyt, 1992; McConnell, 1993). A potential explanation for the lack of significant test score improvement is that the participants were not engaged enough in the drawing activity. However, during the testing process two observations were made that indicated that the participants were engaged in the task. First, no participant finished early. Every participant stayed longer than the minimum required time for completing the presentation. This implies that the participants took extra time to complete their drawings and this shows a level of engagement beyond completing the activity

TRANSMEDIATION AND TECHNOLOGY just to finish it as quickly as possible. Second, four participants were randomly asked if their


drawings could be anonymously saved and reviewed. Upon review of the drawings, it is evident that these participants were constructing their drawings with a level of effort that would indicate that they took the activity seriously (See Appendix D for the before and after drawings). Factors that helped determine this assumption were the attention to detail, the constant use of arrows, and the labeling of what the participants deemed to be important information. This is consistent with McConnells (1993) findings that her students naturally took to labeling their drawings. As expected, the drawings also served as a way to see how the participants knowledge of the topic grew. Chang (2012) explains that drawings convey the level of conceptual understanding a student possesses. Chang further explains that students drawings can be used as a way to see the students understanding of a topic grow. Even though a statistically significant difference in average improvement scores between the groups was not found, this growth in understanding seemed evident based on the four series drawings reviewed from the experimental condition. This provides value for the inclusion of drawing in the learning process because this insight into the students knowledge growth could be invaluable for the evaluation of the effectiveness of a lesson or alternative testing. If the participants enjoyed the presentation, exhibited engagement, and showed knowledge growth through their drawings, why didnt their improvement scores for the experimental drawing group differ from the control group? Rockwell and Singleton (2007) found similar results in their research that analyzed various forms of streaming multimedia and the modality it was presented in, on the effects of information acquisition. They found that participants in experimental groups that contained more forms of information delivery (e.g. video or audio) struggled to perform as well as the participants in a group that received the same



information delivered through text alone. Rockwell and Singleton concluded that, the addition of streaming media to a text-based presentation had detrimental effects on information acquisition. (p. 186). One potential explanation for their results could be because the participants in the text-only group found their presentation to be significantly more interesting and educational than the text-audio-video group, they were more motivated to learn the material. However, Rockwell and Singleton posit another possible explanation of their results. Because the extra channels of multimedia (audio and visual) were presenting the same information as the text of the presentations, the extra streams of information could have acted as nothing but noise to the participant, hindering the information acquisition process (p.187). Cognitive Load Theory

Noise in the information acquisition process is what researchers in the field of cognitive load theory call extraneous cognitive load. This is a type of cognitive load that is not necessary for learning but still places demands on cognitive processing (Van Merrinboer & Sweller, 2005). According to cognitive load theory, information acquisition is dependent on three kinds of cognitive demand: Essential processing; Incidental/Extraneous processing; and Representational holding (Mayer & Moreno, 2003). These three processes all place a demand on cognitive load. Mayer and Moreno (2003) explain that, in multimedia learning [] A potential problem is that the processing demands evoked by the learning task may exceed the processing capacity of the cognitive system a situation we call cognitive overload (p.45). An overload of a learners cognitive processing hinders their ability to understand the material, attend to important aspects of the material, organize the material into a coherent cognitive structure and integrate it with relevant existing knowledge (Mayer & Moreno, 2003).

TRANSMEDIATION AND TECHNOLOGY Cognitive overload can be an important consideration for multimedia approaches to learning (a multimedia approach to learning is any form of learning that includes verbal and/or pictorial representation). There is evidence to support that multimedia materials foster deep learning through verbal and pictorial representations, however these materials have also shown to be a challenge to effectively implement due to their high cognitive processing demands (Leutner, Leopold & Sumfleth, 2009; Mayer & Moreno, 2003; Van Merrinboer & Sweller, 2005; Schwamborn, Thillmann, Opfermann & Leutner, 2011). An example of a multimedia


presentation resulting in potential cognitive overload and therefore poor information acquisition would be the previously mentioned Rockwell and Singleton (2007) study. Mayer and Moreno (2003) describe the problem of cognitive overload as a central challenge facing designers of multimedia instruction (p.43). This is the same Mayer (2003) who is previously cited from Mayer (2005) emphasizing the importance of developing software to work with human needs, not visa versa. A common aspect of multimedia materials that have been shown to increase cognitive processing and potentially cause cognitive overload is the level of interactivity the materials require. Kirschner, Kester, and Corbalan (2011), editors of the journal Computers in Human Behavior, explain this specific type of cognitive load as, intrinsic load [which is] imposed by the number of interactive information elements in a task. The more elements there are within a learning task and the more interaction there is between them, the higher the experienced intrinsic cognitive load will be (p.2). Therefore multimedia learning materials that incorporate a high level of interactivity require higher levels of cognitive processing than materials that do not incorporate interactivity (Kirschener et al., 2011; Van Merrinboer & Sweller, 2005).



This effect of high interactivity potentially resulting in cognitive overload was reported in research analyzing the effectiveness of image creation software for science based texts. Researchers Shwamborn et al. (2011) found that: image creation did not aid in information retention; higher mental effort was needed for the image creation activities; image creation was unnecessarily time consuming. Shwamborn et al. (2011) hypothesized that the reason the image creation activity was detrimental to the learning process was due to the unfamiliar nature of the activity. The participants had to expend increased mental effort in order to compensate for the extraneous cognitive load the image creation task placed on them. This detracted from the participants available cognitive load which typically could have been utilized in acquiring the information. Cognitive Load Theory and the Current Research

In the current research, participants in the experimental drawing condition could have suffered from increased extraneous load due to the high level of interactivity the presentation required. This would explain the negative effect the drawing activity had on improvement scores in the experimental drawing condition. Extraneous cognitive load could have been further placed on the participants processing capacity by the use of open ended prompting for the sketches. Previous research found that open ended drawing prompts significantly impaired reading comprehension by increasing extraneous cognitive load (Leutner et al., 2009). This stands in contrast to research which found drawing to help organize a students thoughts and knowledge (Chang, 2011; Chang, 2002; Hoyt, 1992; McConnell, 1993). A potential explanation for the drawing task in the current research having a negative effect on improvement scores could lie in the design of the presentation and not in the act of drawing. By having participants draw their representations of the information twice, there was the potential effect of the information

TRANSMEDIATION AND TECHNOLOGY becoming redundant. Redundancy of information has been shown to increase extraneous cognitive load and detract from learning (Van Merrinboer & Sweller, 2005). Another possible explanation of the design of the presentation being detrimental to


information acquisition could be the effects of representational holding. Representational holding refers to the cognitive processes that attempt to hold mental representations of information in the working memory for a period of time. Mayer and Moreno (2003) give an example of representational holding processes at work in the context of using a computer based multimedia presentation: [S]uppose that an illustration is presented in one window and a verbal description is presented of it in another window, but only one window can appear on the screen at one time. In this case, the learner must hold a representation of the illustration in working memory while reading the verbal description or must hold a representation of the verbal information in working memory while viewing the illustration (p.45). In the current research, participants in the experimental drawing group had to hold information in their working memory in order to create visual representations. Participants were able to go back to previous slides to refresh their working memory, but the activity of searching for information in order to complete a learning task is described by Van Merrinboer and Sweller (2005) as one of many weak problem solving methods (p.150). These types of presentation designs are known to increase extraneous load because the act of searching for information uses up extra cognitive processes. Extraneous cognitive load is additive. For the current research this means that the more factors of poor design there were, the more likely the experimental drawing group would have suffered from extraneous cognitive processing demands. With higher processing demands than

TRANSMEDIATION AND TECHNOLOGY the control group, the experimental drawing group may have had a harder time acquiring the information. Cognitive Load Theory and Transmediation


While not hypothesized, cognitive load theory provides a potential explanation for why transmediating may have been detrimental. Transmediating is not an easy task. It is a complicated process of actively analyzing and evaluating information so a bridge between two sign systems of expression can be created (Hoyt, 1992; Siegel, 1995). There is no literal way to transmediate between signs, and therefore cognitive processes will always be needed to transmediate. Based on the results, it is hypothesized that the act of transmediating for the experimental drawing group imposed extraneous cognitive load on the participants cognitive processes. This would have hindered the participants ability to acquire information. It is also possible that transmediation would not have been helpful to the information acquisition process due to the type of information being learned. Transmediation promotes a generative process that fosters new ideas and encourages different interpretations of information. This means that by transmediating information from one sign system to another sign system, learners begin to make their own interpretations about the information (Hoyt, 1992; Semali, 2002; Siegel, 1995). It is only speculation, but the generative process of transmediation may not be the most effective means of teaching relatively static scientific concepts to middle school students. By only testing the participants on how well they retained information via a pre-test post-test format, personal interpretation of the information was not assessed. The current research was only interested in the amount of accurate information memorized.



Future research should examine new ways that the theory of transmediation can be incorporated into computer based learning programs within the context of cognitive load theory. As evidenced by the current research, the benefits of transmediating do not compensate for questionable presentation design. Therefore, all computer based teaching materials that incorporate transmediation should be designed with strong consideration for the potential cognitive load transmediating can place on the cognitive processes. Examples of smarter presentation design could include keeping all information needed to work between sign systems in the same window. This would cut down on the extraneous load caused by searching for relevant information between windows, a solution recommended by Mayer & Moreno (2003) in their paper Nine Ways to Reduce Cognitive Load in Multimedia Learning. For the current study, a potential improvement to the presentation design could be removing the initial drawing prompt before every information slide. This could have cut down on a redundancy effect, ideally freeing up more cognitive processing for internalizing the information. Only by utilizing a smarter design of incorporating transmediation into a learning presentation can the effects of drawing on learning be assessed. There are compelling arguments for the activity of drawing being a beneficial aid to the learning process, and future research should strive to find more effective ways of utilizing the drawing activity. At the very least, the present research provided evidence to show that the participants enjoyed the inclusion of drawing to the presentation. In a review of the literature published on the inclusion of drawing in learning, researchers Van Meter and Garner (2005) found that very few reliable articles containing empirical evidence to support drawing could be found. What they did find was a common assertion in that drawing positively influences students affect by stimulating interest in

TRANSMEDIATION AND TECHNOLOGY target content, increasing involvement in target content, and engaging learners in higher order thinking (Van Meter & Garner, 2005). This increased motivation is a compelling argument for the need for future research to look at effective uses of drawing activities. However the current research exemplifies the need for more research in this field due to the inclusion of drawing possibly being detrimental to information acquisition. There are multiple variables that should be assessed in future research in regards to effective transmediation, drawing, and the use of computer technology. Effects of expertise in regard to familiarity with the subject matter and the type of interactivity the presentation demands could potentially have an effect on a learners information acquisition (Van


Merrinboer & Sweller, 2005; Salden, Paas & van Merrinboer, 2006; Schwamborn et al., 2011). Salden et al. (2006) likens the notion of highly interactive learning being too complex for novice learners to driving a car, when learning to drive a car, one might perform the part-task of shifting gear not adequately. The trainer might decide to focus on this part-task before the student can continue with practicing the whole-task of driving the car (p.331). This implies that if the learner is inexperienced with the subject matter or the type of interactive activity, then their learning may suffer due to the complexity of both factors. There is also the confounding variable of testing participants directly after the presentation. This is not necessarily representative of learning and fails to capture potential long term memory effects. While the current research was bound to a strict data collection period and therefore unable to gather data on long term retention, this would be an interesting variable to assess by having follow up testing at later dates.

TRANSMEDIATION AND TECHNOLOGY It is also uncertain to what extent the current research results are applicable to other subject matters. The current research focused on information acquisition in regards to subject matter rooted in botany and more generally biology. How this type of learning presentation would affect information acquisition in other fields such as reading comprehension or


mathematics is to be determined and should be the focus of future research. This was a concern shared by Shwamborn et al. (2011) who also studied the inclusion of a drawing activity in the general field of biology. Considerations for Future Research with this Population

The current research had access to a unique group of participants who were an absolute pleasure to work with, although working with this young participant population posed certain unexpected challenges. As is universal of all research with minors, parental consent was needed in order for a student to participate. However, the students showed little interest in participating in the study, and very few consent forms were initially received. It was only after the principle researcher was able to personally meet and interact with the students later in the year that the majority of consent forms came in. By getting to meet the students, interest in the study was sparked and consent forms starting coming in at a much faster rate. This was an unforeseen complication that put strain on the data collection schedule, however this is a helpful insight for future research. Another aspect of data collection that should be taken into consideration for future research is the time of day that a student is asked to participate. Due to a strict data collecting period, students were asked regardless of their class period. This means that a student could have been asked to participate during their recess period, or while in the middle of a complicated math



lesson. A measure of engagement in the task would have been helpful to analyze whether or not the time of day had any effect on the participants performance. While only speculation, this is a variable that should be potentially controlled for in future research. Implications

While the primary hypothesis was not supported, this research provides a strong set of considerations for future applications of drawing within a learning activity and multimedia presentation design. This research is also exemplary of the type of research that is critical for the future use of technology in our classrooms. The survey data confirmed what Raine & Lenharts (2002) survey The Digital Disconnect: The Widening Gap Between Internet-savvy Students and their Schools stated over ten years ago! Technology permeates so many aspects of our lives. To not work towards fully integrating various forms of relevant educational technology into classrooms will only make school more and more irrelevant. But it is just as important to make sure the technology being implemented is actually beneficial to the learning process (Lengel & Lengel, 2006; Mayer, 2005; Price, 2007; Stewart et al., 2012). The importance of working with students from this racially and socioeconomically diverse population is also crucial to developing effective teaching strategies. As previously mentioned, the experience of attending middle school can change for members of different races (Losen & Skiba, 2010). However racial diversity is not everything, as highlighted by Dr. Lillard in Trisha Bishops (2013) article from the Baltimore Sun, socioeconomic status can play an influential role in behavior and development. This is especially pertinent in urban school settings. Researchers Balfanz, Spiridakis, Neild and Legters (2003) found a strong link between poor eighth grade performance and high school dropout rates: less than 10% of students who had

TRANSMEDIATION AND TECHNOLOGY failed half of their classes or had missed three or more months of school in their eighth grade


year failed to graduate high school. The majority of these students did not even make it past the tenth grade. Therefore a strong focus should be placed on developing successful teaching strategies that cater to diverse populations. Conclusion

It is unrealistic to think that one study could make the slightest dent in the upsetting dropout rates of urban schools. Regardless of how much evidence was found to support the research hypothesis, it will take much more than just one learning activity, no matter how effective, relevant, and engaging it may be, to even come close to changing anything. However the present research is at the very least a small step in the right direction by laying the groundwork for future research aimed at developing more relevant and successful teaching methods.



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This presentation is on the different parts of plants. Please read everything on each slide. Dont skip to the next slide until you see the next button pop up, which looks like this. Follow the instructions on the slides. You may look back at skipped slides if you want. You will be quizzed on this information so take your time! Enjoy!

Drawing Instructions
Some slides will ask you to draw a picture based on what youre learning. Draw whatever comes to mind! You must draw something (be creative)! You may LABEL your drawings! Dont go to the next slide until the Next Button pops up. Have fun with the drawing!

Slide A1

Slide A2
Draw a picture of a plant stem! Plant Parts!
(Hit the next button when youre ready!)

A quick lesson written by Alex Dorman based on Dr. Doherty and Dr. Spindlers lesson What Parts of the Plant do we Eat?

Slide A3
Stems can be found either underground or above ground. Stems have segments called Nodes. The part in between the nodes is the Internode.

Slide A4
Draw a picture of a plant stem with your new knowledge!

Some nodes are Lateral Buds, which can grow into branches and leaves.

Slide A5

Slide A6


What do Stems do?
Stems connect the leaves to the roots. Stems support the leaves of the plant so the leaves can capture sunlight. Some stems are used for storage of nutrients.

Draw a picture showing what stems do with your new knowledge!

Slide A7
Draw a picture of leaves!

Slide A8
If a leaf is located above ground, its main goal is to take in sunlight. If a leaf is underground, its main goal is to store nutrients. The one thing all leaves have in common is the presence of veins.

Slide A9
Draw a picture of leaves with your new knowledge!

Slide A10
Draw a picture of Plant Roots!

Slide A11

Slide A12
Draw picture of what roots do with your new knowledge!

Roots have two main functions:

Holding the plant in place like an anchor. Absorbing water and nutrients.

Some roots serve as a place to store sugars made above ground.

An examples of a root that does this is carrots.

Slide A13

Slide A14



Draw a picture of a flower!

Flowers are the reproductive structures of the plant, designed to attract pollinators like bees. Parts of a flower include:
The Stamens The Pistil The Petals

Slide A15
Draw a flower with your new knowledge!

Slide A16
Draw a picture of fruit!

Slide A17
A fruit is defined by having seeds. This means that if a plant part has seeds, it is a fruit. This means things like pumpkins, cucumbers, and tomatoes are fruits because they have seeds.

Slide A18
Draw a picture of fruit with your new knowledge!

Slide A19
Draw a picture of how plant seeds spread!

Slide A20
How Seeds Spread
Fruit is one way for plants to spread their seeds. Fruit is sweet and colorful so animals want to eat it. Animals then spread the fruit seeds through their droppings (poop).

Slide A21

Slide A22


Now draw a picture of seeds spreading with your new knowledge!


Good job youre done!

Slide A23

Slide A24

TRANSMEDIATION AND TECHNOLOGY Appendix B Test on Plant Parts. Circle the best possible answer
1. On the stem, branches and leaves can grow out of the ________? a. The Internodes b. The Nodes c. The Vertical Bud d. The Lateral Bud 2. What part of the stem is in between the Nodes? a. The greater node b. The internode c. The lesser node d. The outernode 3. Name one of the three things stems do for a plant. a. Connect leaves to the roots b. Support leaves so they can soak up sunlight c. Storage for nutrients d. All of the above 4. A leaf can a. Soak up sunlight if aboveground b. Store nutrients if belowground c. Neither a nor b d. Both a and b 5. One feature all leaves have in common is? a. Veins b. Being green c. A stalk d. Phosphorus 6. Roots work like _________________ a. A float to keep the plants from drowning b. A repellant to keep bugs away c. An anchor to hold the plant in place d. A wire to keep the roots connected to other roots 7. Roots are cable of_____________ a. Testing the soils health b. Absorbing water and nutrients c. Defending the plant against toxins d. Telling the tree when to drop its leaves.




8. Some roots store sugars that were made above ground. What types of roots do this? a. Yams b. Carrots c. Apples d. Celery 9. What is the purpose of a flower? a. To shade the stem from the sun b. To be more appealing to humans and animals c. To stop photosynthesis d. To attract pollinators like bees 10. Which of these answers is not a part of a flower? a. Stamen b. Pistil c. Rhondus d. Petal 11. Why does fruit tend to be sweet and colorful? a. To stop predators b. To encourage animals to eat it c. Because the sun makes the colors brighter d. Because the fruit has seeds 12. How are fruit seeds commonly spread naturally? a. Through animal feces b. The wind c. Humans growing fruit trees d. Through photosynthesis 13. What defines a fruit? a. Sweet flavor b. It grows on trees c. It has seeds d. It can only grow in a warm climate 14. Which of these is a fruit? a. A pumpkin b. Broccoli c. Cauliflower d. Celery 15. Which of these is not a fruit? a. Tomatoes b. Pumpkins c. Cucumbers d. Radish

TRANSMEDIATION AND TECHNOLOGY Appendix C Circle the number that shows how you feel about the following statements.


1 Strongly Disagree, 2 Mildly Disagree, 3 Neutral/I dont know, 4 Mildly agree, 5 Strongly agree

1. I liked the presentation 1 2 3 4 5 2. The presentation was educational 1 2 3 4 5 3. The presentation was boring 1 2 3 4 5 4. The presentation was enjoyable 1 2 3 4 5 5. The presentation was understandable 1 2 3 4 5 6. The presentation was interesting 1 2 3 4 5 7. I learned a lot from the presentation 1 2 3 4 5 8. I did not learn anything from the presentation 1 2 3 4 5 9. I am comfortable using Microsoft Powerpoint 1 2 3 4 5 10. I am comfortable using the internet 1 2 3 4 5 11. I am comfortable using computers 1 2 3 4 5 12. I have access to the internet at home? Yes No

TRANSMEDIATION AND TECHNOLOGY Appendix D Drawing with Only Prior Knowledge versus Drawing with New Knowledge


Figure D1

Figure D2



Figure D3

Figure D4