Facilitating Spatial Task Learning in Interactive Multimedia Environments While Accounting for Individual Differences and Task Difficulty


Two experiments examined the effects of interactive tutorial features (compared to “passive” features) on learning spatial tasks, an area seldom explored in interactivity research. Experiment 1 results indicated that for simple spatial tasks, interactive tutorials hindered learning for participants of higher spatial ability but improved learning for lower-ability participants. This interaction can be explained by “compensation,” the notion that people of higher ability can compensate for poor external support (passive tutorials) while people of lower ability need the better support. It is likely that the increased cognitive load of interactivity (Kalyuga, 2007) hindered high-spatial participants on a relatively easy task. In Experiment 2, task difficulty was increased, and the results revealed that the interactive tutorial produced better learning than the passive tutorial, regardless of spatial abilities. With the relatively difficult task, the benefits of interactivity became clearer because most people actually needed the interactive features despite the associated cognitive load.

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