PowerPoint Use


Happy New Year! Some have begun the semester while a few of us will begin soon. As we consider course material, I thought it helpful to share research on creating Powerpoints (PP) or Google Slides. In Herting, Pros and Tarrida's, "Patterns of PowerPoint Use in Higher Ed: A Comparison between the Natural, Medical, and Social Sciences (2019)" the authors highlight patterns of presentation material. They note that instructors who reported greater dependence on PP tended to use it primarily as study material.

The authors remind us that "human beings have limited cognitive resources, so a sensory-rich content (PP), may increase student’s interest but may also deplete the information processing resources more quickly. According to Levasseur and Sawyer (2006), because we process the visual content faster than the verbal content, a combination of images and sounds may overload the working memory so their resources focus on the visual content." Thus, design AND teaching practices are key to PP effectiveness.

Otter et al. (2019) compared image-only PP to combined image-text presentations in biology and found that image only had a positive impact on performance. Similarly, Cladellas and Castelló (2017) found that text-only format did not contribute to a better performance with medical students.

In summary, the authors found:

  1. There was a high predominance of visual or combined presentations in the natural and medical sciences, while the social sciences were dominated by textual slides, which could limit their effectiveness;

  2. Medical science instructors had a more positive outlook regarding the expected benefits of PP. They also showed greater dependence and automatism; and

  3. High scores on the scale, defined as the level of dependence upon the use of PP are strongly related to the use of PP to study for exams, while low scores are related to the use of PP for critical reflection.

References

Herting, D., Pros, R., & Tarrida, A. (2019). Patterns of PowerPoint use in higher education: A comparison between the natural, medical, and social sciences. Innovative Higher Education https://doi.org/10.1007/s10755-019-09488-4

Cladellas, R., & Castelló, A. (2017). Percepción del aprendizaje, procedimientos de evaluación y uso de la tecnología PowerPoint en la formación universitaria de medicina [Perception of learning, evaluation procedures, and use of PowerPoint in university medical training]. Intangible Capital, 13, 302–318. https://doi.org/10.3926/ic.814

Levasseur, D. G., & Sawyer, J. K. (2006). Pedagogy meets PowerPoint: A research review of the effects of computer-generated slides in the classroom. Review of Communication, 6, 101–123. https://doi.org/10.1080 /15358590600763383

Otter, R., Gardner, G., & Smith-Peavler, E. (2019). PowerPoint use in the undergraduate biology classroom: Perceptions and impacts on student learning. Journal of College Science Teaching, 48(3), 74–83. https://doi. org/10.2505/4/jcst19_048_03_74

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