Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)


Graduate School

First Advisor

Kenneth L. Beauchamp

First Committee Member

Roseann Hannon

Second Committee Member

Gary N. Howells


The effects of the mode of presentation and the preconceived degree of difficulty on the retention of academic content material were measured. The design of the experiment was a 6 x 3 x 2 split-plot factorial. The levels for the mode of presentation were: (a) print-only, (b) pictorial-plus-print, (c) audio only, (d) pictorial-plus-audio, (e) print-plus-audio, and (f) pictorial-plus-print-plus-audio. The levels for the preconceived degree of difficulty were: (a) very easy, (b) neutral, and (c) very difficult. The participants were 112 undergraduate students (24 males, 88 females) randomly assigned to the experimental conditions. The dependent variables were the immediate and delayed retention of content material measured through the use of four criterion tests: a drawing test, an identification test, a terminology test, and a comprehension test. Results for the univariate split-plot ANOVA of the total scores showed that the main effects of mode and preconceived degree of difficulty were found to be significant. All four predicted differences between means were not statistically significant. Only one of the three hypotheses of no significant difference was supported--the hypothesis of no significant difference between the pictorial-plus-print-plus-audio condition and the pictorial-plus-audio condition. No significant mean differences between the easy, neutral, and difficult conditions were found, although there was a significant main effect and the means for these conditions were ordered such that the more difficult the content material was perceived, the lesser was the ability to retain such material. Multivariate analysis of the immediate and delayed tests showed that the major factors contributing to the significant effect of mode were the drawing and identification tests, but subsequent multiple comparison tests did not show significant support for any predictions. For the identification test, a significant main effect for mode showed that the pictorial-plus-audio and pictorial-plus-print-plus audio means were significantly superior to the audio only mean.



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