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Clark Versus Kozma 1

Running Head: Clark versus Kozma Debate

Clark versus Kozma Debate

Stephanie Moses
University of West Georgia
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There is a long standing debate in instructional media and technology between Richard

Clark and Robert Kozma. The role of technology as it relates to learning has changed

tremendously in the 21st century. Currently, technology is embedded in virtually every phase of

life- jobs, education, health, etc. Clark has a belief that the method of instruction is what matters

the most in student learning. On the other hand, Kozma believes that media has a direct

influence on learning. The purpose of this paper is to investigate both sizes of this argument and

discuss how Clark and Kozmas point of view can be relevant in todays world.

The Debate

There are two different thoughts on the importance of technology used in instruction.

Clarks main belief is that media and technology does not directly influence learning. He claims

that media are mere vehicles that deliver instruction but do not influence student achievement

any more than the truck that delivers our groceries causes changes in our nutrition (1983,

p.445). Clark maintains that media does not strengthen or support student learning. Students will

learn regardless of the type of media and technology presented to them. Clark believes the type

of instructional method influences learning. Kozma believes that media will influence learning.

He poses the idea that no relationship between media and learning may exist because one simply

has not been made (Kozma, 1994). Learning occurs when a student makes a real world

connection to a relevant, visual representation. If students have not been exposed to the

information being presented or have limited knowledge of it, various media presentations will

enhance the learning experience. Learning and media has a special relationship between

environment and the cognitive processes of the learner.

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There are theories that can be used to explain the positions of Clark vs. Kozma debate.

According to Mayers cognitive theory of multimedia learning, students learn better from words

and pictures than from words alone (Mayer.2001). This supports Kozmas belief that media has

a positive influence on student learning. Learning is stronger when information is presented

visually and audibly -using more of a students senses which aids in the process of learning the

information. Swellers cognitive load theory relates to the amount of information that the

working memory can hold at one time during instruction. Swellers theory suggests that the

amount of information processed is greater if extra activities such as media and technology are

not added to the learning process. The media and technology during instruction that does not

directly deal with the information is extraneous and is not able to be processed effectively.

Adding media to learning divides the learners attention and therefore makes it difficult for the

learner to learn information in the process.

The debate is not as relevant today because the twenty-first century has turned into the

technology information age. Information is so readily available at a click of a button.

Students learn best when pictures, videos and other means of media are presented with the

information. This twenty-first century generation is fully supported by the Internet and other

form of technology (Hidayat, 2014). Technology supports teachers in the learning process of the

students and not hinder as Clark believes. Creativity is promoted when students have a choice in

their learning source (type of technology) preferred for their learning style. This also encourages

intrinsic learning that plain face to face teaching with no media or instructional technology does

not promote. Clark stands firms that the type of media or technology does not influence learning.

He believes that learning would be the same regardless of the presentation method. The students

learn best according to the adequate instructional methods. The process of learning instruction is
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paramount to Clark. Kozma firmly believes that the media directly influences the learning

process of students. Students are able to remember information easier when there is a visual

representation (media and technology) related to it. Students are able to recall information easier

when technology is incorporated into the learning.

As a result of this debate, classroom instruction in todays classroom should clearly cater

to the information age we are in now. Students are gravitating toward online instruction for post-

secondary studies especially. This is an easier way to learn the information and make it available

to more students. Students in high school and middle school are being encouraged to BYOT

(Bring Your Own Technology) which in turn causes the students to take more responsibility for

their learning and not depend on the teacher for all of their learning needs. Technology based

learning is an important aspect of learning that Clark did not focus on but definitely makes a

difference in todays classroom settings. Learning experiences in the classroom today must be

engaging, hands-on and not to mention fun and also involve some level of technology. If the

teacher executes the appropriate methods of learning for instruction but does not include

technology or some innovative form of media, then the learner will lose interest and not learn the


This debate is not as relevant today as in the past because of the technology that has

invaded so many parts of everyday life. Students are used to technology even before they enroll

in school so it makes sense that their best learning will occur when media and technology is used

in learning. Technology and media keeps students engaged and is not a hindrance in learning the

information. The cognitive ability of the student is increased when students are presented with

information using technology.

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Clark, R. E. (1983). Reconsidering research on learning from media. Review of Educational

Research, 43(4), 445-459.

Clark, R. E. (1994). Media will never influence learning. Educational Technology, Research and

Development, 42(2), 21-29

Hidayat, F. (2014). A strength-weakness opportunity (SWO) analysis of three implementation

models for integrating the knowledge age information and communication technologies into


Kozma, R. (1994). Will media influence learning: Reframing the debate. Educational

Technology Research and Development, 42(2), 7-19.

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

Sweller, J. (1988). Cognitive load during problem solving: Effects on learning, Cognitive

Science, 12,257-285.