0361-476X/$ - see front matter © 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Contemporary Educational Psychology 32 (2007) 588–598
The eVect of redundant text in multimedia
Eric Jamet ¤, Olivier Le Bohec
Laboratoire de Psychologie Expérimentale, CRPCC, Université Rennes 2 Haute Bretagne,
place du recteur Henri Le Moal, CS 24307 35043 Rennes Cedex, France
Available online 1 November 2006
The purpose of this study was to examine the redundancy eVects obtained when spoken informa-
tion was duplicated in writing during the learning of a multimedia document. Documents consisting
of diagrams and spoken information on the development of memory models were presented to three
groups of students. In the Wrst group, no written text was presented. In the second, written sentences
redundant with the spoken information were progressively presented on the screen while in the third
group, these written sentences were presented together. The results show that whatever the type of
text presentation (sequential or static), the duplication of information in the written mode led to a
substantial impairment in subsequent retention and transfer tests as well as in a task in which the
memorization of diagrams was evaluated. This last result supports the hypothesis that the visual
channel is overloaded as the cognitive theory of multimedia learning suggests.
© 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Multimedia learning; Redundancy eVect; Cognitive load
Multimedia material is being increasingly used as an aid to teaching, whether in the
form of on-line courses, CD-ROMs or projections of presentations using the appropriate
software. The studies undertaken in the Weld of cognitive psychology now permit us to gain
E-mail address: email@example.com (E. Jamet).
E. Jamet, O. Le Bohec / Contemporary Educational Psychology 32 (2007) 588–598 589
a better understanding of the mechanisms involved in the learning of such multimedia doc-
uments (i.e., documents consisting of multiple sources of information). The most inXuential
models to be proposed in this Weld are the cognitive load theory (Paas, Renkl, & Sweller,
2003; Sweller, 1999; Sweller, van Merrienboer, & Paas, 1998) and the cognitive theory of
multimedia learning (Mayer, 2001, 2005).
This cognitive theory of multimedia learning is based on the idea that there are separate
processing systems for pictorial and verbal information and that learning consists of estab-
lishing links between the verbal and pictorial representations. Each of these channels has a
limited processing capacity at any given time. This hypothesis is also central to the cogni-
tive load theory (Sweller, 1999). Finally, meaningful learning is deWned as the deep under-
standing of the material and presupposes the active processing of the document. It is
revealed in the ability to apply what has been learned to new situations, in particular
within the framework of knowledge transfer problems. It requires the construction of a
mental model of the document on the basis of three processes: selection of the important
elements in the presented material, the organization of these elements within a coherent
structure and their integration with existing knowledge.
As far as cognitive load is concerned, a distinction is made between three types of
sources. The Wrst relates to the central processes necessary for learning. The second is asso-
ciated with the incidental processes which are not necessary for learning but which are
induced by the design of the document or the learning situation. The third refers to the
processes involved in the working memory retention of a representation over a given
period of time.
One of the examples of overload presented by Mayer and Moreno (2003) relates to the
incidental processing associated with the way in towards the information is presented.
Here, the authors refer to a situation in which the learner has to manage the simultaneous
presentation of the same information in the written and spoken modes (redundant presen-
tation). According to the authors, this type of presentation may result in cognitive over-
load by unnecessarily increasing the incidental processing operations associated with the
reconciliation of two forms of verbal information. Indeed, this redundancy eVect has been
reported many times in the literature.
In general terms, redundancy occurs when one and the same item of information is pre-
sented in diVerent forms or when unnecessary additional information is proposed (Sweller,
2005). The term “redundancy eVect” is used more restrictively by Mayer (2001) to refer to
the negative eVects obtained when spoken explanations of an illustration are duplicated in
writing. It is this form of redundancy eVect that will be investigated in this article.
In an initial approach to this Weld, researchers studied redundancy eVects during the
presentation of written information which either or was not duplicated in the spoken
mode. In signal detection tasks, redundancy eVects are generally positive (Miller, 1982,
1991; Miller & Reynolds, 2003). Similarly, the retention of words presented both in speech
and in writing is generally better than when words are presented in one mode only (Lewan-
dowski & Kobus, 1993; Penney, 1989 for a review), and the same has been observed for the
retention of lists of numbers (Nordby, Raanaas, & Magnussen, 2002) or warnings about
the eVects of alcohol consumption inserted in television adverts (Barlow & Wogalter,
1993). Positive redundancy eVects have also been observed in connection with more com-
plex texts (Montali & Lewandowski, 1996). However, the opposite results (i.e., the superi-
ority of the spoken mode) have sometimes also been observed (Kalyuga, Chandler, &
Sweller, 2004, Exp. 3). Finally, a number of studies involving in driving or navigation tasks
590 E. Jamet, O. Le Bohec / Contemporary Educational Psychology 32 (2007) 588–598
have revealed better performances for the redundant and spoken modes compared with
the visual mode using an on-board vehicle navigation system (Liu, 2001). However, this
superior performance was not found in a study of the modes of presentation of informa-
tion communicated by air traYc controllers to pilots (Helleberg & Wickens, 2003).
The results relating to learning from illustrated documents are clearer. Even though an
illustrated written document may be particularly eVective (Mayer, 2001), it may constrain
readers to share their attentional resources between the various sources of visual informa-
tion if these are not intelligible on their own. This consequently increases the cognitive load
in the visual channel (Sweller et al., 1998). This “split-attention eVect” (Ayres & Sweller,
2005 for a review) can be reduced if parts of the text are moved to the corresponding places
on the illustration (Chandler & Sweller, 1991, 1992; Kester, Kirschner, & van Merriënboer,
2005; Sweller & Chandler, 1991; Sweller, Chandler, Tierney, & Cooper, 1990) or if pop-up
windows are integrated in the diagram (Erhel & Jamet, 2006). To avoid the split-attention
eVect observed for illustrated texts, it is possible to use the spoken mode to explain a dia-
gram (Ginns, 2005 for a review).
A number of studies undertaken in this research Weld have analyzed the eVects of adding
redundant information to information presented in writing. For example, the study con-
ducted by Kalyuga, Chandler, and Sweller (1999) evaluated the role of the mode in which
explanations of a diagram concerning the fusion of materials were presented. The explana-
tions of the diagram were presented in oral, visual or redundant conditions. In the two
tasks in the test phase, the spoken explanation group outperformed both the visual expla-
nation group and the redundant group (redundancy eVect). The subjective mental load
questionnaires also indicated that the spoken explanation group was at an advantage.
These redundancy eVects were identiWed again in later studies (Craig, Gholson, & Driscoll,
2002; Kalyuga, Chandler, & Sweller, 2000; Leahy, Chandler, & Sweller, 2003).
In a more complete study in which documents relating to the formation of lightening
were presented to students (Moreno & Mayer, 2002), the presence of redundant explana-
tions in the spoken and written modes were manipulated while an animation was or was
not presented simultaneously. They therefore compared the successive/simultaneous and
redundant/non-redundant versions. In this case, the authors observed an interaction
between the two factors. When presentation was simultaneous, the redundancy eVect was
negative, thus conWrming the results of other studies (Kalyuga et al., 1999, 2000). When
presentation was successive, the redundancy eVects were positive again. In such case, learn-
ing does not require resources to be shared between the written words and the illustrations.
In consequence, if the negative redundancy eVect is linked to the joint processing of the
various sources of visual information, one solution would consist of successive oral and
written presentations (Kalyuga et al., 2004). This is therefore more a case of repetition than
of redundancy. In cases where this type of solution is not possible, for example a Power-
Point course presented with a video projector, other solutions could be evaluated. One of
these could result from a less literal approach to redundancy. In all the studies presented
here, the written text strictly duplicated the spoken explanation. It is possible to reduce the
quantity of written information by simply presenting a summary on the screen. These
reduction had no eVect in a study conducted by Mayer and coworkers (Mayer, Heiser, &
Lonn, 2001). However, a study which we recently undertook involving the multimedia
teaching of accounting for economics students (Le Bohec & Jamet, in press) suggests that
the summary format seems to represent a good compromise. It returned performances
equal to those observed in the no-redundancy condition without being judged as
E. Jamet, O. Le Bohec / Contemporary Educational Psychology 32 (2007) 588–598 591
negatively as the no-redundancy condition in terms of speed of presentation and pleasant-
ness on a subjective satisfaction scale.
To summarize, when purely verbal information is presented, the redundancy eVects are
generally positive. When another source of visual information such as an illustration is pre-
sented at the same time as this verbal information then the redundancy eVects are negative.
These negative eVects may disappear if the illustration is presented after the redundant text
or if the written text is presented after the illustration and oral explanation.
Another solution which, to our knowledge, has never been evaluated is to use the
sequential presentation of written information in order to reduce the quantity of visual
information on the screen. This type of presentation is, for example, used in studies of
redundancy without, however, subjecting this to any speciWc evaluation (Kalyuga et al.,
1999). It may be of interest for redundancy studies to examine the impact of presenting
written information on screen all at once or, for example, cumulatively on a sentence-by-
sentence basis. This type of presentation, which is very easy to achieve using slide-show
software, would have the beneWt of restricting (at least at the start of each slide) the quan-
tity of visual information and should reduce the overload in the visual channel.
The Wrst aim of this study was to replicate the negative eVect of redundancy described
above, as well as to test the hypothesis according to which redundancy eVects are propor-
tionate to the quantity of written information presented on-screen. In other words, the
present of a written text which is redundant with the spoken explanation should have a
negative eVect on learning because it overloads the visual channel. In contrast, if the writ-
ten sentences are presented sequentially, the quantity of visual information will be smaller
at the start of each slide and the redundancy eVect should diminish.
The second aim of this study was to test the speciWc eVect of redundancy on the reten-
tion of the illustrated information. Indeed, if the negative eVect of redundancy is linked to
the overloading of the visual channel as the cognitive theory of multimedia learning pre-
dicts, it should be particularly strong in tasks requiring the retention of information pre-
sented on screen (i.e., texts or diagrams). While text retention tasks have frequently been
used, diagram retention tasks have never been employed in the studies described above
with the exception of those conducted by Moreno and Mayer (2002). However, it is in this
type of task that particularly strong eVects should be observed since, unlike texts which are
presented in both the oral and written modes, diagrams are only presented visually. Their
processing should therefore be particularly impaired by the presence of other visual infor-
mation. We predicted that redundancy would have a negative eVect on this type of infor-
mation since the presence of written information will cause learners to refocus their visual
attention away from the diagram and towards the text or, at least, share their attention
between these two sources of information.
To test these hypotheses, in the study presented below, we confronted students with
a multimedia document in the Weld of cognitive psychology dealing with the develop-
ment of memory models. In this document, written information redundant with that
presented orally was either absent, present in full or present in full but presented
sequentially on screen. The participants were then asked to complete text retention, dia-
gram completion and knowledge transfer tasks for the purposes of evaluation. We pre-
dicted that performances for all of these tasks will be aVected negatively by
redundancy, but also that this eVect should be particularly strong for the diagram com-
pletion task. Sequential presentation should reduce negative eVects of redundancy for
all of these tasks.
592 E. Jamet, O. Le Bohec / Contemporary Educational Psychology 32 (2007) 588–598
2.1.1. Participants and design
The participants consisted of 90 second-year undergraduate students recruited from the
psychology faculty at the University of Rennes (France). The Median age was 20 and the
overall percentage of women was 83%. A pre-test questionnaire revealed that none of them
had received any instruction concerning memory models. The students were randomly
assigned to three training groups in a single factor, between-subjects design. There were 30
students in each group.
2.1.2. Materials and apparatus
The computer-presented material consisted of three documents which were presented in
succession. The documents took the form of three illustrated texts dealing with the ques-
tion of memory functioning. The texts used presented (a) the Atkinson and ShiVrin model
(1968), (b) Baddeley’s model (Baddeley, 1986) and (c) Cowan’s model (Cowan, 1995). The
texts were constructed to be roughly equivalent in terms of number of words: 386 words
for the Atkinson and ShiVrin model, 363 words for Baddeley’s model and 379 words for
Cowan’s model. Each slide contained at most three or four sentences.
Each model was presented for a period of approximately 220s and consisted of six
slides. The diagram corresponding to the model was present on the screen at all times. The
spoken explanation was the same in all the groups. The students could not replay the nar-
ration and consequently, the presentation of the texts took 11min for all participants.
After each model, presentation stopped on a blank screen and students had to click on a
button to move on to the next model.
In the no text group, no written text was presented alongside the diagram. In the full
text group, the text corresponding to the voice presentation was displayed next to the dia-
gram. In the sequential text group, the text was displayed cumulatively on screen sentence-
by-sentence (see Fig. 1). The multimedia presentations were developed using Director
MX™ (Macromedia, 2002). The apparatus consisted of 6 Pentium III PC computer sys-
tems, each with a 15-inch monitor.
For each participant, the paper-and-pencil materials consisted of a subject question-
naire, a retention test, a transfer test and a diagram completion test. The subject question-
naire investigated the participants’ prior knowledge of memory models by means of four
general questions. Two more speciWc questions were used to verify whether the participants
had already been taught about memory. The participants completed this questionnaire
even if memory model courses were not to be available until later in the academic year in
order to detect any students who might have been retaking the year or subjects who had
chosen optional courses.
The retention test consisted of 12 literal open-ended questions (for example, “What is
the role of the central executive in Cowan’s model?”).
The transfer test consisted of 12 inferential open-ended questions which required the
participants to use their knowledge of the text and transfer this to new situations in order
to make their responses (for example, “Why do you think it is more diYcult to learn letters
which are phonologically similar than those which are phonologically dissimilar?”). The
diagram completion test consisted of three pages containing the diagrams presented during
E. Jamet, O. Le Bohec / Contemporary Educational Psychology 32 (2007) 588–598 593
the learning stage but without the captions. The participants had to complete the diagram
for example, in the case of Baddeley’s model – which corresponded to the simplest of the
diagrams – the task consisted of writing the names of the various components (central
executive, phonological loop, visuo-spatial sketchpad).
To complete the experiment, each student worked at a computer with a connected head-
set. On arrival, each participant completed the prior knowledge test. They were then told
that they were going to see three texts concerning memory operation and that, after the
presentation they would have to answer a questionnaire relating to what they had seen and
Presentation of consigns and text tooks approximately 15min. At the end of the presen-
tation, they answered three questionnaires (with a 15-min time limit).
A list of possible correct answers was produced for each question in the retention test
and transfer test. These questionnaires were scored by awarding one point for each ques-
tion with a correct response. For the diagram completion task, the participants received
one point for each correct caption at the right place in the diagram.
Fig. 1. Selected frames from the sequential-text group. The no-text group corresponds to the Wrst frame, the full-
text group to the last.
594 E. Jamet, O. Le Bohec / Contemporary Educational Psychology 32 (2007) 588–598
3. Results and discussion
Table 1 presents the mean scores and standard deviations for each group on each of the
We conducted a one-way analysis of variance, with redundancy levels as the between-
subjects factor. Planned comparisons were used to explore further the diVerences between
the cells of the ANOVA design with p<.05.
3.1. Verbal retention task
There was a signiWcant diVerence in the retention scores obtained by the groups receiv-
ing no text (MD4.4, SD D2.22), sequential text (MD2.87, SD D2.24) and full text
(MD2.27, SD D2.02), F(2, 87) D7.84, MS E D36.3, pD.001, 2D.15. Planned comparisons
were conducted and showed that the no-text group performed better than the full-text
group, t(87) D¡2.52, pD.01, Cohen’s dD1.01, and the sequential text group, t(87) D¡2.88,
pD.005, Cohen’s dD0.69. There was no signiWcant diVerence between the sequential text
group and the full text group.
3.2. Diagram completion task
The ANOVA revealed a signiWcant eVect of the Information Presentation Format on
subjects’ retention performances, F(2, 87)D21.89, MSE D387, p< .001, 2D.34. Planned
comparisons indicated a signiWcant diVerence between the no-text group (MD14.98,
SD D3.12) and the full text group (MD8.22, SD D4.24); t(87) D¡7.04, p<.001, Cohen’s
dD1.81. Similarly, the performances of the sequential text group (MD9.5, SD D5.04) were
signiWcantly poorer than those of the no-text group, t(87) D¡5.06, p< .001, Cohen’s
dD1.3. There was no signiWcant diVerence between the sequential text group and the full
3.3. Transfer task
There was a signiWcant diVerence in retention scores between the groups receiving no
text (MD3.63, SD D2.22), sequential text (MD2.18, SD D1.82) and full text (MD2.37,
SD D1.75), F(2, 87) D4.94, MSE D18.7, p<.01, 2D.10. Planned comparisons were con-
ducted and revealed that the no-text group performed better than the full text group
t(87) D¡3.92, p< .001, Cohen’s dD0.63, and the sequential text group, t(87) D¡2.76,
Mean score and standard deviations on retention, diagram completion and transfer tests for three groups
Note. Maximum score is 12 for retention and transfer tests and 20 for diagram completion test.
Group Retention Diagram completion Transfer
MSDM SD MSD
No text 4.4 2.19 14.98 3.12 3.63 2.22
Sequential text 2.87 2.24 9.5 5.0 2.18 1.82
Full text 2.27 2.02 8.22 4.23 2.37 1.75
E. Jamet, O. Le Bohec / Contemporary Educational Psychology 32 (2007) 588–598 595
pD.007 (Cohen’s dD0.71). There was no signiWcant diVerence between the sequential text
group and the full text group.
To summarize, the Wrst hypothesis predicted that the negative redundancy eVects in the
full text condition would be observed in all the conditions but also that they would be par-
ticularly great in the diagram completion task. This hypothesis was conWrmed: while the
eVects were moderate for the transfer test (dD.63) and strong for the retention test
(dD1.01), they were greater for the diagram test (dD1.81).
The second hypothesis put forward in this study was that the sequential presentation of
the text would reduce the negative eVect of redundancy. Even though the size of the eVect
for the retention and diagram completion tests was clearly smaller in the case of sequential
presentation, no signiWcant diVerence was observed between the full text and sequential
text groups; a Wnding which was at odds with our hypothesis.
4. General discussion
The Wrst aim of this study was to replicate the negative redundancy eVects observed on
illustrated documents and then to test the eVects of sequential text presentation on this
redundancy eVect. First of all, the negative redundancy eVect already observed during the
learning of animated (Craig et al., 2002; Mayer et al., 2001; Moreno & Mayer, 2002) or
static illustrated documents (Kalyuga et al., 1999, 2000) was again identiWed in this study,
independently of the mode of text presentation.
As far as we know, the results relating to the diagram completion task are more innova-
tive. As we expected, performance on this task was particularly impaired when information
that was redundant with the spoken explanations of the diagram was presented on screen.
The study conducted by Moreno and Mayer (2002) made use of a similar task (matching
test). The result of this task was not signiWcantly aVected by redundancy when there was a
simultaneous presentation with the animation (condition closest to our study). However,
according to the authors, this task did not have a very high discriminatory value. Unlike
Moreno and Mayer’s task, the task used in this study employed a larger number of more
complex diagrams and a more varied response scale (0–20).
Our results clearly validate the hypothesis that the visual channel is overloaded as pro-
posed by the underlying theory of multimedia learning (Mayer, 2001; Mayer et al., 2001)
given that the learning performance that is most aVected by the redundancy is associated
with the information source that directly competes with the written text in terms of visual
processing (i.e., the diagram).
Our second hypothesis was that the sequential presentation of the text would reduce this
eVect. Even though the negative eVects were reduced by approximately 30% in this format,
no signiWcant diVerence was observed between the static and sequential formats. A number
of explanatory hypotheses can be advanced. First of all, this type of presentation only
reduces the quantity of information presented on screen by a few seconds since the presen-
tation of the sentences is cumulative (i.e., each sentence appears below the last one with a
maximum of four sentences on the screen). It will be necessary to test a presentation in
which each sentence disappears after being displayed in order to eliminate this problem. It
should also be noted that the number of sentences was limited to four per screen in each
type of presentation. This quantity of information is perhaps too small to reveal positive
eVects in sequential presentations. Finally, it is possible that the redundancy eVect is to
some extent independent of the quantity of written information present on the screen. In
596 E. Jamet, O. Le Bohec / Contemporary Educational Psychology 32 (2007) 588–598
eVect, the cognitive management of a redundant multimedia document consists of at least
three components. One of these consists of listening to sentences and selecting the impor-
tant information. The second, which is speciWc to redundant documents, consists of visu-
ally scanning the screen in order to Wnd a heard sentence in the written text and then read
it. The third component, which does not necessarily occur after the second, consists of
looking at the illustration and identifying the part that corresponds to the text in order to
establish referential links between the verbal and pictorial representations (Mayer, 2001,
As far as the second component is concerned, our hypothesis was that the stage of visual
scanning of the text would be aVected by sequential presentation. We did not observe any
such eVect. This absence could be due to the fact that, in this case, sequentiality only acted
on one of the stage with a low level of explanatory power in terms of the redundancy eVect.
In other words, if sequentiality is capable of inXuencing the written text scanning phase,
there is nevertheless no reason to believe that the process of reading the sentence can be
inXuenced by this presentation. However, this reading time may sometimes be suYcient to
impair the phase during which the illustration is processed because the learners are not
able to control the speed of the oral presentation. This hypothesis seems to be supported in
our study by the strong negative eVects of the presence of a written text – whether sequen-
tial or not – on the memorization of the diagram. Otherwise stated, it is possible that it is
the time taken to read the sentence and not the time required to locate it on the screen that
impairs the processing of the illustration.
Similarly, the sequential presentation of the text cannot aVect the phase during which
the referential links between the verbal and pictorial representations are established. How-
ever, this phase is often complex and imposes a high cognitive load, in particular when the
text and illustrations are presented separately on the screen (Ayres & Sweller, 2005). In the
future, it will be interesting to test a sequential presentation of the text in parallel with the
presentation of elements of the diagram in order to facilitate this phase during which the
referential links are constructed. In eVect, in such a case, the successive presentation of the
illustrated and textual elements could facilitate the establishment of relations between
them and, in particular, the search in the diagram since the last element to appear would be
the element referred to in the text. This type of presentation would thus resemble other
modes of signaling the illustrated elements, the positive eVects of which are already known
(Craig et al., 2002; Jeung, Chandler, & Sweller, 1997; Tabbers, Martens, & van Merriënb-
As far as the limitations of this study are concerned, we should Wrst of all point out that
all the participants found it very diYcult to understand the document as the relatively low
scores on the retention and transfer tests indicate. This relative diYculty could have
aVected the conclusions and more research is required in this regard.
Secondly, the learners did not have very many ways of controlling the process (a pause
after each model). This situation is probably suYcient for a proportion of the observed
cognitive overload to be associated with the absence of possible compensations in terms of
time. A presentation in which the introduction of each phase is controlled by the learner
would probably help complement the present results.
Finally, it is necessary to note that the three documents used (the memory models pro-
posed by Atkinson, Baddeley and Cowan) varied in complexity at both the graphical and
conceptual levels. It was not possible to counterbalance the order of the documents
because there is a theoretical (and historical) logic to the order used in our study. However,
E. Jamet, O. Le Bohec / Contemporary Educational Psychology 32 (2007) 588–598 597
the eVects are probably very diVerent for relatively simple models such as Baddeley’s and
considerably more complex models such as the one developed by Cowan. Nothing in our
study enables us to evaluate the eVects of diagram complexity on the redundancy eVect but
it is likely that they are non-negligible. More research is needed to evaluate these eVects, in
particular through the experimental manipulation of this level of complexity.
As far as the practical implications of the study are concerned, it seems clear that when
learners learn a multimedia document without having control over the presentation,
redundant written texts should not be used. The negative eVects of this redundancy are
particularly strong in the case of diagram retention. However, they are also observed in
text retention and knowledge transfer tasks. The learning situation used here was relatively
similar to lecture situations involving the use of a video projector. Apart from their genu-
ine didactic content and relatively long duration, these multimedia documents were pre-
sented in a way which the learners could not control. Under such circumstances, the results
of our study clearly indicate that the written duplication of the text leads to a considerable
performance impairment. Despite this, this type of redundant presentation remains fre-
quent both in the context of classwork and oral presentations in workshops.
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