One of the most important, difficult and common decisions that designers of learning make is whether to add interesting text, sounds, or visuals to learning material. We want to arouse interest,curiosity, engagement but it’s important to know when these elements seduce learners and when they become a distraction.

Learning Design and The Art of Seduction

The first step in our seduction process is arousal. We can arouse interest in our learning solutions in 3 ways mentally, emotionally and physically.

The Impact of Pedagogical Agents

A pedagogical agent is considered to have higher social presence than other online mediated media because pedagogical agents provide emotional context, which can lead to affective arousal

Beware The Anti Climax

It’s so easy to arrive at a disappointing end to an impressive series of events. It takes just one developer to create an anti climax by not realising how carefully the art of seduction has been thought through and failing to embrace it with inappropriate misleading, or irrelevant content.

In multimedia learning, seductive detail is usually called seductive augmentation the term seductive augmentation refers to text graphics,narratives, voice, and animation, with the purpose of arousing a learner’s interest

A wonderful piece of research provided by Will Thalheimer helps us to understand the impact of seductive augmentation on learning recall and retention:

  • When adding additional elements to content that has been designed to describe or explain something there was an average reduction in recall of 47%

  • When adding photos/illustrations alone to content that has been designed to describe or explain something. There was an average reduction of 42% for recall and 34% for transfer

  • When adding photos/illustrations and printed seductive details there was an average reduction of 65% for recall, 56% for transfer

  • When adding visuals or printed or narrated seductive details to multimedia narrated animations Narrated Seductive Details to Multimedia Narrated Animations – 4 of 6 comparisons showed a seductive augmentation effect for recall of main ideas. 6 of 6 showed an effect for problem-solving transfer. Average reduction is 19% for recall, 33% for transfer

To summarise……When learners are faced with seductive augmentations, they seem to have difficulty creating the memory structures they would need for longer retention

What is interesting is that the seductive augmentation effect does not occur when printed seductive details were added to to Narrative Biographical Text 6 of 6 comparisons showed no seductive augmentation effect.

Arousal factors that are beneficial to learning

As a blended learning designer I am aware that arousal for cognitive tasks must be kept low this is because you need the learners’ full attention on the subject matter but that’s not to say the learning that is presented should be bland.items such as labelled illustrations or questions added to text helps learners with both recall and problem solving transfer tasks.

It’s not any augmentation that will hurt learning. It is only those that divert the learners’ cognitive processing away from the information that should be learned.

Research and Credits
Thalheimer, W. (2004, November). Bells, whistles, neon, and purple prose: When interesting words, sounds, and visuals hurt learning and performance—a review of the seductive-augmentation research. Retrieved January 02 2017, from augmentations.htm