Learning from multiple representations: An examination of fixation patterns in a science simulation

Paul A. Okeefe, Susan M. Letourneau, Bruce D. Homer, Ruth N. Schwartz, Jan L. Plass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The present study examined how the integration of multiple representations in a multimedia simulation was associated with learning in high school students (N = 25). Using eye-tracking technology, we recorded fixations on different representations of the Ideal Gas Laws, as well as transitions between them, within a computer-based model that included a gas container with animated gas molecules, control sliders to adjust different gas variables, and a graph depicting the relations between the variables. As predicted, fixation transitions between conceptually related parts of the simulation were associated with different learning outcomes. Specifically, greater transition frequency between the gas container and the graph was related to better transfer, but not comprehension. In contrast, greater transition frequency between the control sliders and the graph was related to better comprehension, but not transfer. Furthermore, these learning outcomes were independent of learners' prior knowledge, as well as the frequency and duration of fixations on any individual simulation element. This research not only demonstrates the importance of employing multiple representations in multimedia learning environments, but also suggests that making conceptual connections between specific elements of those representations can have an association with the level at which the information is learned.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)234-242
Number of pages9
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • Fixation patterns
  • Multimedia learning
  • Multiple representations
  • Simulations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • General Psychology


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