PowerPoint in Education

medical education

PowerPoint is best used when students are expected to retain complex graphics, animation, and figures. For alphanumeric information (e.g. text and numbers) Powerpoint as well as traditional presentations can be used. If students are expected to retain information and/or concepts that are best conveyed through dialog or verbal explanation, traditional presentations appear to be best. This type of information should not be shared verbally in the presence of PowerPoint, because people tend to focus on that what is presented on the slides as opposed to what is verbalized. If students are expected to retain simple graphs and alphanumeric information that is verbalized and displayed visually, either presentation style is acceptable. Overall, this study explains the ‘‘intelligent use” of PowerPoint – when to use or not use. Educational technologies are most effective when used properly.

The ‘‘intelligent use” of educational technologies can be defined with three components (1) How do people learn (cognitive component)? (2) How can the learning experience be facilitated (instruction component)? (3) How can technology be used to improve instruction and learning (technology component)? Over the years there has been research to support the three components as individual entities and collectively as the cognitive theory of multimedia learning. The third component has received much attention as researchers try to evaluate the effectiveness of new educational technologies, particularly PowerPoint.

What is meant with traditional lectures or – presentations?
These are lectures with no use of electronic technology, no slides or PowerPoint but just verbal lecture with the use of chalk when needed (chalk and talk).

Most important results of this study with the objective to determine how to present information effectively for maximum retention:

  • PowerPoint negatively affects the recall of auditory information delivered during lectures.Students retained 15% less information delivered verbally by the lecturer during PowerPoint presentations.
  • The mean scores for graphic retention were higher for PowerPoint (25%) and traditional (23%) presentations than reported for the no class group.
  • In PowerPoint there is no more information retained than in traditional lectures (talk and chalk).
  • In PowerPoint presentations graphic scores were higher than audio scores and in traditional presentations audio scores were higher than graphic scores. Overall scores of information retainment were not significantly different.
  • Students prefer PowerPoint presentations over traditional lectures. Students did not view information on the slides as more important than what the professor verbalized.

Why is this important?
Their were mixed results among studies that investigated the beneficial effects of PowerPoint on performance, and

This study offered high granularity analyses by decomposing the overall scores into auditory, graphic, and alphanumeric scores to reveal new insight on the performance comparisons. It considered retention of auditory information presented to the students without the presence of PowerPoint (e.g., traditional lecture), auditory information in the presence of PowerPoint, and visual (i.e., graphic and alphanumeric) information displayed on the chalkboard and PowerPointTM slides in forming the quiz and its analysis.

Next week: The timing of online lecture slide availability

April Savoy, Robert W. Proctor, Gavriel Salvendy (2009). Information retention from PowerPoint™ and traditional lectures Computers & Education, 52 (4), 858-867 DOI: 10.1016/j.compedu.2008.12.005