Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Details

Liu, T., Lin, Y. & Paas, F. (2013). Effects of cues and real objects on learning in a mobile device supported environment. British Journal of Educational Technology, 44 (3), 386-399.


This study investigated whether arrow-line cues can improve the effectiveness and effi-ciency of learning in a mobile device supported learning environment on leaf mor-phology of plants, either with or without the use of real plants. A cued and un-cuedcondition, in which primary school students used text and pictures on a tablet PC, werecompared with a cued and un-cued condition, in which the students used the text andpictures on the tablet PC and real plants. Using the theoretical framework of cognitiveload theory, it was expected that arrow-line cues would decrease extraneous cognitiveload and that the availability of real plants would increase germane cognitive load.Arrow-line cues were hypothesized to decrease split-attention effects by supporting thestudents’ mental integration of different sources of related information on the mobiledevice, materializing in a more favorable relationship between learning time and testperformance (ie, higher learning efficiency) in the cued conditions than in the un-cuedconditions. The availability of real plants was hypothesized to foster learning efficiencyby providing a more motivating physical environment, in which the students couldverify the knowledge available on a mobile device with real plants. However, this posi-tive germane cognitive load effect was only expected in combination with decreasedextraneous cognitive load in the cued condition. Whereas, the results showed higherefficiency of the cued conditions than the un-cued conditions, no difference wasfound between the cued conditions with or without real plants. The implications of theresults for research and design of mobile device supported learning environments arediscussed.