Effects of finger and mouse pointing on learning from online split-attention examples

Publication Name

British Journal of Educational Psychology


Background: Self-management of cognitive load is a recent development in cognitive load theory. Finger pointing has been shown to be a potential self-management strategy to support learning from spatially separated, but mutually referring text and pictures (i.e., split-attention examples). Aims: The present study aimed to extend the prior research on the pointing strategy and investigated the effects of finger pointing on learning from online split-attention examples. Moreover, we examined an alternative pointing strategy using the computer mouse, and a combination of finger pointing and computer-mouse pointing. Sample: One-hundred and forty-five university students participated in the present study. Method: All participants studied an online split-attention example about the human nervous system and were randomly allocated to one of four conditions: (1) pointing with the index finger, (2) pointing with the computer mouse, (3) pointing with the index finger and the computer mouse and (4) no pointing. Results: Results confirmed our main hypothesis, indicating that finger pointing led to higher retention performance than no pointing. However, the mouse pointing strategy and the combined finger and mouse pointing strategy did not show supportive effects. Conclusions: Finger pointing can be used as a simple and convenient self-management strategy in online learning environments. Mouse pointing may not be as effective as finger pointing.

Open Access Status

This publication is not available as open access

Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

China Scholarship Council



Link to publisher version (DOI)