Dynamic visualisations and motor skills



Publication Details

Castro-Alonso, J., Ayres, P. & Paas, F. (2014). Dynamic visualisations and motor skills. In W. Huang (Eds.), Handbook of human centric visualization (pp. 551-580). New York, United States: Springer.


Due to their popularity, dynamic visualisations (e.g. video, animation) seem attractive educational resources. However, in the design of any instructional material, not only must the appealing factor be acknowledged, but also the cognitive limitations. To consider the limitations of human cognitive architecture when designing instructional resources has been the leitmotif of cognitive load theory (CLT). CLT research has shown that the transitory nature of dynamic visualisations imposes such a high working memory load that, in many cases, these depictions are no more effective for learning than static visualisations. However, dynamic visualisations have been shown to be superior to static visualisations when the depiction involves human motor skills, a special case which might be explained by the mirror neuron system (MNS) aiding working memory to cope with transitory information. We will begin this chapter by presenting instructional properties of dynamic visualisations. Next, we will discuss the main differences between dynamic and static visualisations and how each can affect learning. Then, we will describe briefly CLT to give a more detailed account on instructional strategies to improve learning from dynamic visualisations. Next, we will summarise video modelling of motor skills. To end this chapter, we will focus on the MNS and how it aids humans to learn motor skills through observation.

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