Presentation Slides and Learning in Lectures

The humble presentation slide is used by many educators, and I suppose that it would be easy to overlook the impact on learning of decisions made when creating and distributing these.

We’ve posted before regarding some issues to think about when creating slides. These have included asking if PowerPoint’s animations help or hinder learning, and how to choose appropriate images.

What I’d never properly considered was the effects of when slides are made available, but this is something explored in Babb and Ross (2009), “The timing of online lecture slide availability and its effect on attendance, participation, and exam performance” in Computers & Education 52.4 [Edge Hill Library link]. Walter van den Broek has written a good overview, but very basicaly the authors found that when slides were available before the lecture there was greater student participation in the lecture, but no significant difference in exam results.

In the same issue of the Computers & Education journal there is an article by Savoy et al (2009) “Information retention from PowerPoint™ and traditional lectures”, which aims to suggest situations in which presentation slides are beneficial for retention of information, and in which situations they have the opposite effect.

Like most things related to teaching and learning, there are a lot of things to take into consideration when trying to understand the impact of presentation slides on different types of learning. However these articles have started me thinking a bit more about how I use them in my own sessions.

[image by Andrew Scott]

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