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    • #22274
      David Read

        Ok, for this first forum post, can you answer these two questions:

        1. Which of the six principles reviewed above do you find the most difficult to interpret? And why?
        2. Which ONE principle do you think might not work so well with non-native speakers?
      • #22630
        Allison Dresner

          The contiguity principle is probably the most difficult one for me to interpret, this idea of reducing the separation of different forms of information in both time and space. I think the reason why this is more difficult for me to understand this I’m not particularly good at understanding spatial awareness generally. So I get the idea of it but I’m not quite sure how that would actually work in principle. I’m thinking perhaps it means putting related information together perhaps on one slide rather than separating into 3 or 4?

          All the other principles. I find quite straightforward. I think for  non native English speakers, the signalling principle could cause difficulty as I have found that students sometimes have difficulty in illustrating the relationship between concepts or ideas, and definitely the modality principle. Again, from my experience, because of poor presentation skills or a lack of experience in presenting, students often put lots of text on a screen and just stand and read it – so yes I think this modality principle would cause them problems. Additionally,  the principle of contiguity, I think would cause difficulty, as that one  causes difficulty for me too, so I think for non native English speakers. That one would probably be that, quite  :bye: problematic.

        • #22631
          Bernadette Kelly

            1.  For me, the contiguity principle just looks like they are using big words for a very common-sense idea.  If you present the same thing in three different forms but they are widely separated in time or space, students will get confused.  Have I misunderstood?

            2.  For non-native speakers I agree with Allison that the modality principle is perhaps less of a benefit than with native speakers – you can’t depend to the same extent on their listening comprehension.  However, I think it’s more about building enough time for processing into whatever you are presenting and if we are thinking of asynchronous learning, where the students can go at their own pace, the problem is diminished.

          • #22632
            Georgina Lloyd

              Which of the six principles reviewed above do you find the most difficult to interpret? And why?

              Contiguity – I haven’t come across that term before, nor have I analysed my (or my students) slides in that specific way before, although as Bernadette says you wouldn’t start one point on slide two and then finish it off on slide 9! But I think the idea of contiguity is interesting in terms of slide design, if it focuses more on images/text/ideas and spatially where the information is placed, in relation to each other.

              Which ONE principle do you think might not work so well with non-native speakers?

              I think both 3. Redundancy and 4. Modality are could potentially conflict with theories of second language learning and teaching (I also think there is overlap between these two). In terms of redundancy, you might want more text on the slides in ESL slides, as it provides models of language as well as scaffolding students’ understanding of the presentation. So whilst you hopefully won’t read what is on your slide (!), there may well be a fair number of words on there that you also present aurally.


            • #22634
              Caitlin Coyle

                1. Which of the six principles reviewed above do you find the most difficult to interpret? And why?

                Perhaps the ‘redundancy principle’, just because of habit. I know the article is from 2013 but tbf to PPT, currently their online version has a feature called ‘Rehearse with a Coach’ which records you talking through a PPT and highlights the sections you are directly reading from. Hence there is a feature of PPT which helps reduce the ‘redundancy principle’, albeit it is not a default feature and I am guessing it is relatively new.

                2. Which ONE principle do you think might not work so well with non-native speakers?

                I wouldn’t necessarily put all non-native speakers in one category, as proficient speakers or even more advanced fluent speakers I don’t think would have many problems. Nevertheless, I agree with @spottypoppy that less proficient students may have issues with ‘signalling’. I sometimes get essays where students write a point and then start writing about something related and choose ‘However,…’ when perhaps ‘In addition,…’  would be more suitable.

                I also agree with @berniek and @georgie_l that less proficient language users may heavily depend on lecture slide information. Indeed when I designed my General English course for the first time, the Disability Service at the uni suggested putting up PPT slides and other materials up at least 24hrs in advance so students could make the slides more appropriate for themselves (font size and colour). Prior to students gaining access Blackboard Ally (on Moodle) can help teachers somewhat review the accessibility of their materials. As I understand putting up materials 24hrs in advance is (/is supposed be) standard practice, regardless of the language level of the learners. However, I did think with language learners there was an added benefit of reading the slides before class (checking vocab, etc). Of course with regards to the multimedia principle there is no reason materials have to be just reading materials.

                The modality principle really struck me in general. I was not specifically thinking about whether the speaker was from though. The idea that ‘hearing verbal info is better than reading it’- is this true for all people? I know the VAK/VARK theories are also critiqued and I would agree that multimedia approaches are preferable but I am not sure about the assertion that ‘hearing…is better than reading’ when one has to be chosen over the other. I am thinking  especially about Bloom’s higher level thinking skills. For example, drilling vocab for pron. might be good for basic recall, but if I want students to be analytical whilst they could listen to various lectures I think reading various written sources with the ability to highlight, copy and paste may be easier, or at least more familiar. I don’t know though as I am aware that Vygotsky and other social learning theorists put a lot of emphasis on communication for learning, and arguably speaking and listening are more social forms of communication than reading and writing. Therefore, seminar/tutorial listening I think may be better than reading in some cases but not just lecture listening.



              • #22636
                sue robbins

                  1. Which of the six principles reviewed above do you find the most difficult to interpret? And why?

                  When designing slides for online teaching this year I found it challenging to work with the Signalling principle. It required keeping in mind an overview of the whole year, semester, module aims, scope and sequence of the taught elements when designing weekly content in order to supply cues about the hierarchical concepts of the module at each stage and not just within one set of weekly slides. To facilitate this I resorted to storyboarding the module to ensure that the elements fitted together in the way we had supposed they did prior to the emergency pivot, and focused on the constructive alignment of the various elements. At each stage I found myself having to make multiple decisions about how/when to make such cues explicit.

                  2. Which ONE principle do you think might not work so well with non-native speakers?

                  Home students I work with (foundation level) seem to find Signalling most challenging, possibly because they tend to focus primarily on the subject-specific content and on their own position on the topic. The higher order thinking about how to explain that well to an audience takes more time to develop given their mental model of argumentation is still under construction and needs regular trial-feedback-trial opportunities.

                  My experience with non-native speakers (contested term), on the other hand, is that they may lack the confidence required to deliver a presentation without a script (whether as physical notes, text-heavy slides or reciting from memory) and as a result have difficulty with Redundancy, which can lead to a narration of what is on their slides. As @caitlin says, however, there is a link between language proficiency and confidence, and this may affect students’ willingness to take risks :bye:

                • #22639
                  Paula Villegas Verdu

                    1. Like @Allison, I also struggle with the contiguity principle ( I have 0 spatial awareness so this may be why). I think this idea of having ‘similar’ information in different modes may affect redundancy and maybe even cognitive strain. I am a bit unsure how to apply this principle :unsure:

                    2. I am not sure the principles would not work with non-native speakers (whatever that may mean…). I think it has to do with the content being pitched at the right level. As well, the designer will need to be aware of what symbols may mean in a different context. For example, I had a student asking me what a green tick meant. It hadn’t occurred to me that someone may not automatically recognise that as ‘correct!’ So I guess the principles can be applicable but in a way that works for the students not only in terms of their language level but also catering for different learning abilities.

                  • #22642
                    PANAGIOTA TZANNI

                      Hi everyone!

                      Below, you can find my answers;

                      The criterion I think will be challenging to apply is ‘contiguity’. Sometimes, we need to economise and save some space in order to provide an explanation in a single slide. Therefore, a set of information that needs two slides need to be put in one slide according to this criterion. As for the 2nd question, modality can be difficult for non-native speakers. Most non-native speakers rely on both hearing and reading/seeing the information on the slide in order to understand what the teacher is saying. Accept, pace and pronunciation can be challenging for Asian students in particular, because they tend to be better at reading than listening.

                    • #22643
                      David Lincoln

                        For me the contiguity principle would be the most difficult to intepret. Trying to minimise information in time and space seems to be quite challenging. Although, I can see how it would  build content in mental pictures and reduce the effort required to connect the information.  For non native speakers  I think they would struggle with redundancy and modality and making the connections with aural, verbal and visual information.

                      • #22645
                        Thomas Leach

                          1. I think that contiguity was an interesting one for me. I always thought the use of ‘white space’ was an important design ethic whereas this principle seems to go against that. That being said, I think that reducing the space could be a beneficial way to connect information.

                          2. I think this one depends on the students but I could certainly see modality being an issue. I think listening is quite a tough skill as the student needs to simultaneously listen and comprehend what’s being said. If they don’t have it in written form as well, they might end up missing important information.

                        • #22647
                          David Read

                            Thanks @spottypoppy @berniek @georgie_l @caitlin @suerobbins @ptzanni @david-l @thomasleach for your contributions to the first proper forum (notice how I @ reply your usernames to make sure you get notified of my reply).

                            It seems like the contiguity principle is posing the most problems for people (and yes Bernie, it does seem like an overly fancy word for a simple concept, something we’ll run into multiple times on this course!). It’s not necessarily just about putting info on the same slide, but rather putting things close to each other or visually styling them that so that it’s clear what on the slide they refer to.

                            A simple example might illustrate. Look at the two pictures below and notice how the second one is easier to absorb/understand than the first. It’s not necessarily about depth of information or cluttering up a slide, more about clear relationship pointers by the use of closeness and formatting.

                            Doing this may seem obvious, but it’s amazing how often we don’t actually follow this up when designing actual slides and how we often make the students do more mental work than they need to.

                            Again, as we go through the course certain principles will seem rather obvious, yet strangely difficult for people to put into practice. I mean, take the multimedia principle as a good example. All teachers know that slides should have pictures/images to support meaning, and yet if you’ve gone to any EFL/EAP conference…what do you notice? The vast majority of presentations have reams of text on each slide and little visual support. Why do you think that is? (This is not a rhetorical question by the way, I’m genuinely interested to know what you think!).

                            • #22652
                              Allison Dresner

                                I think it may be because in universities that is deemed more appropriate or acceptable – there may be  style/formatting design that people use in a particular faculty. I know in my own example my slides are completely different to any other team member I work with, colour font, background, images etc . I also think it could be due to a lack of time or perhaps training on how to use PPT more effectively.

                                I know why I avoid the ‘common practice’ route – that’s because I was one of 2 teachers out of 14 in my previous staffroom who used ‘smartnotebook instead of PPT slides and as I also taught Politics for a while, I found using images was really important in helping students to understand content and quite difficult concepts. Now I use Google Slides – always starting with a blank layout so it can be a canvas to add anything to.

                                I’m also aware that it is quite ‘selfish’ in that my own way of learning – being a ‘visual learner’ and being completely switched off by reams of text – even before I start reading, impacts on what I produce. If I think something looks boring then I assume my students will be bored  – it’s all about me : :yes:

                                There is another more important and practical reason why I avoid the ‘common practice’ route and that is in my previous place of work we had a great Learner Support member who gave us training on helping neurodiverse students such as those with dyslexia or ADHD. Changing slide format, finding more visual ways of imparting information, using appropriate backgrounds, showing visually how elements relate to each other all are very positive steps to take to help such students – but  in my own personal experience, they are all of benefit to all students in general – now I know why theoretically.

                                I also do wonder if my own slides etc are deemed as ‘childish’ by more traditional staff and not really what is done at university .

                                Just a few rambling thoughts



                              • #22653
                                Georgina Lloyd

                                  It’s interesting that @spottypoppy mentioned teaching politics and how that influenced your use of visuals. I think when you go to EAP/EFL conferences and see a lot of text it’s

                                  1. because of the nature of the discipline. A lot of research in Applied linguistics focuses on verbal elements (students writing, discourse analysis, pragmatics etc) and so when showing results it’s inevitable that things can a bit wordy. However, as a watcher of a presentation I love it when abstract or concrete ideas are shown visually, it really does work for me too :heart: . And, of course,

                                  2. TIME! Too often these things are made in a rush and it’s a case of just getting the info on a slide in any which way how. However, hopefully thinking all this through and learning about some new concepts like contiguity (thanks for the example, @david that’s really helpful), these things will start coming more naturally to me (instead of just falling back on the ppt template).

                              • #22656
                                Julie Ibdali

                                  For me the contiguity principle is the one I found difficult to interpret but after reading the posts, I think I understand it better – so thanks everyone!

                                  I think like many others, the modality principle may be difficult for the majority of international students as there are many factors that can affect understanding.  I also think the redundancy principle could be quite confusing for some learners.  I suppose it all depends on the level of the learners and what message is being put across.

                                • #22665
                                  Juliet Parfitt

                                    A few people have mentioned the modality principle as causing problems for second language learners (@georgie_l, @spottypoppy, @berniek, @caitlin, @david-l, @ptzanni, @thomasleach, @julie). One thing the article doesn’t make entirely clear is that the modality principle only applies when used with graphics.

                                    We process information through 2 channels: the visual/pictorial channel (the eyes) and the auditory/verbal channel (the ears), as in this diagram:

                                    If we have a picture together with a written text, both of these are processed through the eyes, which increases load because we can’t look at both at the same time.

                                    We can reduce the load on the eyes, and therefore increase processing capacity, by describing the image with speech, so that we also use the auditory/verbal processing channel, as in the first diagram above.

                                    This information comes from Mayer (2016) (E-Learning and the Science of Instruction), who does also make clear that this recommendation is limited to situations where words and graphics are presented together, that it is not a set rule for all situations, and that words should be available in some cases, e.g. for second language learners.



                                    • #22673
                                      Georgina Lloyd

                                        Thank you @Juliet for this explanation, yes the text that we read summarised it quite differently – it doesn’t mention graphics at all, just that it’s better to say something than have it written on screen. I’ve had a little read too of the Modality chapter in e-learning and the science of instruction and it’s very interesting to read about what guides design in e-learning and the research behind this. I have taught a lot online, and have plenty of course design experience for face-to-face courses. However, designing online courses I can see is a whole new world! :-)

                                    • #22807
                                      Evelyn Conneely

                                        I’ve come to the discussion a little late but I’d agree with the comments above re the contiguity principle as it was laid out in the article but the discussion and @david’s example help clarify that.

                                        The principle that might not work so well I’d say is the redundancy principle, as @georgie_l already pointed out, your text may serve as a model. Also, it depends on the purpose of your slides, and whether the slides are not only for presentation purposes but also for students to review after class.

                                        As for David’s question about EFL/EAP conferences and the vast majority of presentations having reams of text on each slide, this reminds me also of uni poster day and poster after poster of impenetrable text…perhaps we all need this course?!

                                      • #22841
                                        Aline André

                                          I had problems understanding the contiguity principle initially. However, after re-reading this principle, it seems that they presented the idea by using fancy words. But, yes, I needed some re-reading and time to understand what they meant by that principle.
                                          For me, the most difficult principles to put into practice are the redundancy or split attention effect and modality principle. I wonder how confusing that could be for non-native speakers (depending on their proficiency level), and students may rely on different channels (written text/ spoken) to comprehend the presentation.

                                        • #22846
                                          Jemima Perry

                                            I agree with previous posts that the contiguity principle is a bit hard to understand, but David’s example makes it clearer, thank you. @david, maybe one of the reason for violating the multimedia principle is that it can often be hard and time-consuming to  find useful images? Also, I feel like it depends quite a lot on the discipline as Georgina says. Some disciplines probably lend themselves to images more than others.

                                            I also struggle a bit with the signalling principle and how this works in practice – I guess it means using lots of diagrams with arrows to show the relationships between concepts?

                                          • #22909
                                            Virginia Spyraki

                                              1. Which of the six principles reviewed above do you find the most difficult to interpret? And why?

                                              Temporal and spatial contiguity seems challenging in practice. Not so much difficult to interpret as it is difficult to use – for example, not presenting things in a consecutive order, but presenting words and visuals together. Sometimes we do break things down though dont we?

                                              I mean the article reflects good engineering practice but is it possible to do in Second language teaching?

                                              2. Which ONE principle do you think might not work so well with non-native speakers?

                                              The redundancy principle apparently does not show evidence of improved learning or comprehension. Reduced effort and increased task enjoyment does not translate into improved comprehension or task achievement when redundant captions are added to video. So much for suggesting subtitles to students when watching movies.

                                            • #22940
                                              Natallia Novikava

                                                Thanks everybody for your insightful comments. I’m catching up and like the others wasn’t entirely sure about contiguity at first but David’s example and your comments helped to clarify that. I’m still not entirely sure about violation of temporal contiguity: would that refer to when, for example, a diagram is shown on one slide but it is commented on somewhere else? I also wonder whether the actual application of these principles depends on the discipline.

                                                In terms of L2 speakers, I agree that redundancy/modality may need some re-thinking.

                                              • #23250
                                                Toshihiko Kitagawa

                                                  I am another one who is catching up.

                                                  1. Not much comments here – at least I feel like I understood them after reading the discussion here.

                                                  2. As a non-native speaker of English, I am not really convinced about the modality principle.  I have always been more comfortable with seeing text in general.  Of course, this depends on various factors in real life.

                                                  At last, I personally do not see much difference in use of text in PowerPoint slides between students and academics, and it seems to be up to individual.

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