Impact of Multimedia Computer-based Instruction on Student Comprehension of Drafting Principles
D. Scott Mackenzie
Montana State University-Northern
Duane G. Jansen
Colorado State University
Technical drawings have been used to communicate ideas from ancient times to the modern era. As the vernacular of industry, technical design, drafting, and drawing are essential to the curricula of all technology, engineering, and design programs. A primary goal in design/drafting (technical graphics) courses is to help students develop the knowledge and skills needed to function as technologists, engineers, drafters, and designers. Such courses, particularly in the early years of a student's academic life, are designed to facilitate the development of skills related to technical graphics, design/drafting concepts, creativity, and spatially related problem-solving abilities (Nwoke, 1993).
For years, industry and design firms have wrestled with the problem of reducing the amount of time spent on completing drawings and designing projects. Similarly, drafting and design educators have experimented with more effective ways of teaching technical graphic concepts, particularly to beginning students who lack exposure to technical drawing techniques. As Nwoke (1993) stated, "many beginning drafting students have difficulty understanding certain fundamental concepts such as those associated with orthographic projection. Often, the problem does not lie with students' inability to 'visualize' or comprehend spatial relationships but with the limitations of traditional tools and techniques of drafting instruction" (p. 111).
Many of the traditional instructional design/drafting tools (e.g., still image transparencies, chalkboards with large manual drawing instruments, and physical mock- ups) offer limited utility when used to teach difficult and complex concepts. One major limitation of traditional instruction is the problem of presenting three-dimensional (3-D) spatial information in a two-dimensional (2-D) format. Another difficulty is the time required to present complex concepts and solve complicated drafting problems by using large-format, manual-drawing instruments on the chalkboard. As the number of concepts that need to be covered in introductory technical graphics courses continues to increase, traditional instruction falls short of accomplishing the intended objectives. In a recent survey of campus computing services, a dramatic increase was observed between the years of 1994 and 1995 in the use of electronic mail (8% to 20%), computer classrooms (16% to 24%), computer simulations or exercises (9% to 14%), presentation handouts (15% to 26%), commercial courseware (11% to 18%), multimedia (4% to 8%), and CD-ROM-based material (4% to 8%) (News, resources, and trends, 1996). In some areas, the instructional technology resources have more than doubled and in other areas have increased by as much as 50 percent. A subsequent survey of campus computing services (News, resources, and trends, 1997) indicated that the use of computer technology by faculty has continued to increase, although at a somewhat slower pace than was noted during the 1995 investigation. This suggests that computers have impacted the college campus in numerous ways. When these trends are considered in light of the technical graphics area, Ross (1991) observed that "the development of new and innovative instructional methods based on 3-D visual modeling represent the future of engineering and engineering graphics education" (p. 16). Although computers are being used in education in various ways, there are two basic models of multimedia computer-based instruction (MCBI). The first model, Multimedia Computer-Based Instruction-One (MCBI-1), is where a commercial multimedia package is purchased from a third-party developer or developed "in-house" by an instructor or institution for use in a certain course or program. The package is then loaded onto an individual computer or networked system with students using it on a "one-to-one" basis as an individualized tutorial/learning system for all levels of instruction (remedial to advanced). The MCBI-1 model builds on older technology (e.g., in terms of limited performance, image quality, interactivity, and multimedia capabilities), which is commonly referred to as computer-based-instruction (CBI) or computer-assisted- instruction (CAI). This technology was developed initially during the Vietnam War by IBM for corporate and military training purposes. Early CBI had limited experimental use in the public education sector (Shlechter, 1991). In short, MCBI-1 was designed to be a self-contained "stand alone" instructional system that requires little, if any, instructor assistance in helping students use the product. All of the necessary information must be contained within the courseware, because the instructor is typically not present physically to elaborate on a topic. Furthermore, students have direct interaction with the courseware and control the pace and sequence of the instructional material. The second model, Multimedia Computer-Based-Instruction-Two (MCBI-2), uses the computer as an interactive multimedia instructional device to enhance the presentation of material to large or small groups of students within a typical classroom setting. In contrast to MCBI-1, MCBI-2 is designed to be used in classroom situations where the instructor uses the computer as a tool to supplement the presentation of course materials. The instructor (not the student) has control over the pace and sequencing of the instructional information and has the ability to verbally explain concepts in as much detail as necessary.
When comparing early applications of computer-based instruction to more recent multimedia-based innovations, one can find substantial differences. Computer-based instruction, created in the previous two decades, was generally of a lower quality, due to the hardware and software limitations faced by instructional developers. Currently, MCBI developers employ sophisticated hardware and software tools that allow for the creation and use of high quality 2-D color still images and drawings, 3-D models, 2-D and 3-D animations/simulations, audio elements, and video segments. These capabilities have facilitated the development of high quality instructional products compared to those that were produced with previous CBI technologies. Another major improvement has been the development of superior (user-friendly) interactivity tools (e.g., hyperlinking, hypertext, and hypermedia), which provide for the creation of navigation paths (Wodaski, 1992). The literature contains a substantial amount of research supporting the effectiveness of early CBI/CAI systems when used properly. This literature also indicates that CBI/CAI can actually be more effective than traditional instruction (Savenye, 1992). More recent studies (Foley, 1993; Hofstetter, 1994; Kizzier, Ford, & Pollard, 1994; Multimedia: A Visual, 1993; Ralph, 1993; Sloan, 1993; Sloan, 1995) support the effectiveness of the MCBI-1 model when used as an interactive tutorial for individuals, while other research questions its validity when used interactively (Janda, 1992; Livergood, 1994). Other research indicates that "when two lessons are designed using similar instructional methods but presented through different media, (e.g., traditional instruction vs. CBI), the results are pretty much the same" (Clark, 1995, p. 3). Empirical research examining the effectiveness of MCBI-2 is minimal and limited in scope (Fifield & Peifer, 1994; Pearson, Paulson, Folke, & Burggraf, 1994; Sammons, 1995). Furthermore, no published results could be located specifically examining the effectiveness of MCBI-2 in design/drafting instruction.
Purposes of the Study
The purposes of this study were to (a) examine the effectiveness of MCBI-2 through quantitative analysis, (b) explore student attitudes toward using MCBI-2 in the classroom, and (c) conduct a cost-benefit analysis. When this research project was conceptualized, the initial approach was to attempt to locate an existing level-one technical graphics software package to assist in the presentation of course material. Four different packages were located and evaluated. All four were limited in scope and did not cover the design/drafting material in sufficient detail or depth to be useful. All could be classified appropriately as pre-MCBI (or modeled after traditional CBI/CAI), where text- only and low resolution 2-D still images and drawings are utilized along with relatively primitive multimedia sound and animation tools. Furthermore, all four packages were better suited for individual (one-to-one) computer-based training rather than for large group presentations. Consequently, the decision was made to develop the needed instructional material "in-house" with assistance of interested and well-qualified students. One effective approach to teaching the concepts of technical graphics is to use CAD- generated 3-D models and geometry (Bertoline, 1991). By incorporating the use of 3-D computer graphics during instruction, students are able to better understand and visualize the types of complex spatial concepts, relationships, and problems that exist in technical graphics. Bertoline (1991) reported that "by manipulating the 3-D computer model, it is possible to view lines and planes so that lines of sight are perpendicular or parallel to geometric entities. This allows the user to solve many spatial geometry problems using nontraditional methods" (p. 38). Based on the literature, a comparative analysis of the effectiveness of a multimedia model of instruction with traditional models of technical graphics instruction (e.g., chalkboard, transparencies, physical models) was warranted. The need to create and test the effectiveness of the MCBI-2 instructional model is apparent given the lack of documented research in the field of technical graphics. Chin (1993) emphasizes this point in an assessment of research in engineering design graphics, noting that there is a "need to direct resources at research in Curriculum/Programs and Visualization" (p. 15).
Specific questions examined in this study were:
- Is there a significant difference between the mean posttest scores of college students who receive certain design/drafting instructional material in a MCBI-2 format compared to those who receive comparable information in a traditional instructional format?
- Will beginning college-level technical graphics students retain the instructional material presented in the MCBI-2 format for a longer period than those who receive the same material in a traditional instruction format?
- Will beginning college-level technical graphics students respond more favorably on an attitudinal questionnaire to design/drafting instructional material presented in a MCBI-2 format than to material presented in a traditional instructional model?
- Which instructional format requires less time to cover the related material?
- What amount of development time will be required to create the instructional material for the MCBI-2 format compared to the traditional instructional format?
Both quantitative and qualitative research methods were employed to provide for a balanced assessment. Savenye (1992) noted that, "most practical educational developers have for many years used a blend of quantitative and qualitative methods in evaluation" (p. 4).
Population and Sampling Design
The target population for the study was students of technical graphics (design/drafting) inclusively. A nonprobability sampling approach was used for this exploratory study. The study's sample was Montana State University-Northern (MSU-N) design/drafting students. The sample was of the "convenience" type. The treatment was administered in Drafting 131, which is a required course for design/drafting majors.
A nonequivalent control group design was used. This quasi-experimental design was chosen due to the non-randomized assignment to the treatment and control groups.
Description of Treatment
During the fall semester of each year, two sections of Drafting 131 (Graphics I) are offered in the design/drafting program. The course is required for all design/drafting majors and minors in both the associate and baccalaureate degree options. The class is structured to cover the fundamental principles and practices of technical graphics, with identical material being covered in both sections by the same instructor. The class meets for 15 weeks and is scheduled three times per week for two-hour sessions. The class format combines lecture and lab with one-third of the time being lecture while the remaining time is devoted to an instructor-facilitated lab. Traditional media tools and methods such as (a) chalkboard with large format wall-mounted drafting machines, (b) still-image black and white transparencies, and (c) physical models are used to assist in the presentation of material.
At the beginning of the fall 1996 semester, both sections were given a pretest over material that would be covered during the semester. Those who scored over 70% had the option of not taking the class (testing out). This pretest has been used regularly in the past, and because of the "testing out" option, students take it seriously. The pretests are collected to avoid circulation among the students. The pretest is academically challenging; typically less than 3% scored high enough to test out of Drafting 131. During the first five weeks of the semester, both sections were exposed to the same traditional instructional format described above. At the end of week five, identical tests were administered and the results were recorded for both groups. The treatment was administered during weeks six and seven of the semester. The subject matter presented during this time period dealt with various aspects of multiview projection (e.g., the glass box, two and three view drawing, partial views, revolution conventions, removed views, surfaces-edges-corners, fillets and rounds, and first and third angle projection). Prior to the start of week six, a coin flip was used to decide which section would receive the treatment (MCBI-2) and become the treatment group, with the other becoming the control group. The treatment group received MCBI-2 during the two-week period, while the control group continued to receive traditional instruction. At the conclusion of this two- week period, posttest-1 was administered to both groups. Only questions pertaining to the information presented during weeks six and seven of the semester were included on posttest-1. Over the last eight weeks of the semester, traditional instruction was again used for both groups. At the conclusion of the semester, a final exam was administered that tested for material covered from week six to the end of the semester. Along with other questions, the final exam included the same 51 questions that had been used on posttest-1. This was designated posttest-2. This second posttest (posttest-2) was used for measuring the retention of information that was presented during the treatment phase of the semester. An attitudinal questionnaire was administered to the experimental group during week 10 of the semester.
The MCBI-2 treatment consisted of 2-D and 3-D images, animations, and audio elements that were all integrated into a highly interactive presentation using an authoring software program. The computer-generated 2-D drawings and color illustrations were all original or recreated adaptations from the class textbook. In addition, many of the images could be enlarged to fill the projection screen by using the mouse to click on the original image. The 3-D geometry, computer models, and color renderings were also original or modeled after textbook images. There were 12, 3-D animations. These animations were all original and hyper-linked to different sections of the presentation module. Furthermore, short duration audio clips were used during the transitions (e.g., moving between slides and the different interactive elements). In contrast, the traditional instruction treatment consisted of black and white still- image transparencies and selected physical models that were used to explain how the "glass box" unfolds into the six principle views. Also, there was little use of the chalkboard due to the nature of the material that was presented during the two-week treatment period (weeks six and seven).
The independent variable was the instructional method, (i.e., MCBI-2 or traditional instruction). The single covariate was comprised of pretest scores. The dependent variables were achievement level on posttest-1 and posttest-2 and the questionnaire responses collected from the treatment group.
The 51 questions that directly pertained to the material covered during the fifth and sixth weeks of the study were selected from a pool of items assembled from (a) previous tests (non-circulating), and (b) questions obtained from prominent drafting textbooks. The questions that were selected from the initial list were thoroughly reviewed for clarity and content coverage. After a critical evaluation, it was concluded that a high level of content validity existed because (a) the questions suitably covered all the different content areas of the instructional material presented during the two week treatment period, and (b) the test questions were proportional in weight to the amount of time spent covering the different content areas. A split-half reliability analysis was conducted (using the odd-even strategy) to estimate internal consistency reliability. After applying the Spearman-Brown formula to the initial correlation, the final result for posttest-1 was r=.8022. The 15 Likert-type questions and the two open-ended questions used in the attitudinal survey instrument were adapted from questions contained in: (a) the Perceptions of Multimedia Classroom Environment Survey developed by Pearson et al. (1994); (b) a survey created by Kizzier, Ford, and Pollard (1994) used for assessing the appropriateness of technologically mediated systems in educational and business learning environments; and (c) a survey produced by Sammons (1995) for assessing computer- aided classroom presentations.
During the preparation of the initial draft of this questionnaire, input was received from several groups of individuals consisting of (a) design/drafting professors, (b) educational technology instructors, (c) undergraduate students, (d) members of the researcher's graduate committee at Colorado State University, (e) MCBI developers, and (f) other industry professionals. The first draft of this instrument was presented to and approved by the researcher's graduate committee. At this point, a panel of five experts with demonstrated ability and knowledge in design/drafting and/or MCBI was selected to review the instrument. Based on the recommendations and critical comments offered by the panel, the final version of the questionnaire was developed and then submitted to the researcher's committee for approval.
In addition to the formal instrument data collection, an observation log was maintained by the researcher throughout the study in order to obtain additional qualitative information. Entries in the log reflected the instructor's perceptions of how the students reacted to the MCBI-2.
Multimedia-Based Approach vs. Traditional Instruction
The first research question asked if there is a significant difference between the mean posttest-1 scores of college students receiving design/drafting instructional information presented in a multimedia computer-based instruction-two (MCBI-2) format compared to those who received comparable information in a traditional instructional format. An analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was used to adjust for differences in pretest scores. The data were analyzed for independence, normality, homogeneity of variance, linearity, and parallelism (conditions for using ANCOVA). All of the assumptions were appropriately met. While intact groups were used, ANCOVA was appropriate due to the randomized assignment of treatments to groups (Hinkle, Wiersma, & Jurs, 1988). A general linear model (GLM) was utilized to conduct the ANCOVA (see Table 1).
Table 1 Multimedia vs. Traditional Group Analysis Including Covariate Adjustment
Source Type IV SS df MS F
Corrected model 566.19 2 283.10 45.25 Intercept 4803.10 1 14803.00 2366.00 Pretest 588.21 1 588.21 89.22 Treatment 32.32 1 32.32 5.17* Error 212.72 34 6.26 Total 328.00 37 Corrected Total 778.92 36
*p < .05
A significant difference was detected between the two groups for the treatment effect, F (1,36) = 5.17, p = .029. The mean posttest-1 scores (after adjusting for the covariate) were 35.51 (SE = .628) for the control group and 37.41 (SE = .548) for the treatment group. The null hypothesis of no difference between the adjusted mean posttest-1 scores was rejected, indicating that the multimedia-based approach was significantly more effective than the traditional format.
The second research question focused on how well the students retained the instructional information presented during the treatment period. The data were examined related to the same assumptions noted for the first research question. As with question one, a GLM-ANCOVA procedure was used (see Table 2).
Table 2 ANCOVA Table for Research Question Two Testing for Retention Including Mean Posttest-2 Scores (Dependent Variable) Covariate Analysis
Source Type IV SS df MS F
Corrected Model 773.81 2 386.91 22.52 Intercept 11296.20 1 11296.00 657.56 Pretest 723.02 1 723.02 42.09 Treatment 75.33 1 75.33 4.38* Error 498.19 29 17.18 Total 41600.00 32 Corrected total 1272.00 31
*p < .05
A significant difference was identified between the two groups for the treatment effect, F (1,31) = 4.38, p = .045. The mean posttest-2 scores after adjusting for the covariate were 33.75 (SE = 1.109) for the control group and 36.85 (SE = .978) for the treatment group. Thus, the null hypothesis of no difference between the adjusted mean posttest-2 scores was rejected, indicating that students receiving the multimedia-based approach had retained the information at a significantly higher level. It should be noted that during the time between posttest-1 and posttest-2, the n value dropped from 21 to 18 for the treatment group, and from 16 to 14 for the control group. The attrition was a result of non-participation or withdrawal from the class.
Attitudes Toward the Two Forms of Instruction
The third research question compared students' attitudes toward the MCBI-2 format vs. the traditional instructional method of presenting information. Specifically the question focused on whether beginning college-level engineering graphics students would respond more favorably on an attitudinal questionnaire to material presented in an MCBI- 2 format compared with that delivered in a traditional instruction model. The first part of the questionnaire was designed to examine the effectiveness of different elements of the MCBI-2 instructional model. This part of the instrument consisted of five forced-response-type questions and one opened-ended question. The results for the five Likert-scale questions are presented in Table 3.
Table 3 Perceived Effectiveness of Different Elements of the MCBI-2 Instructional Model
Question Student Response (%) Unsatisfactory Marginal Fairly good Very Good Excellent
1 How would you rate the effectiveness of the multimedia materials in aiding your understanding of drafting processes and concepts? - - 5 55 40 2 How would you rate the visual quality (size, sharpness, brightness, ect.) of the computer generated still images? - - 10 30 60 3 How would you rate the effectiveness of the computer generated animations in helping you understand drafting processes and concepts? - - - 50 50 4 How would you rate the effectiveness of the audio elements that were used in the multimedia presentations? - 5 40 45 10 5 Overall, how would you rate the use of multimedia materialsthat were used for the two-week period in this study. - - 5 50 45 Note. Dashes indicated that no students chose this category.
An open-ended statement was also included on the instrument, which requested students to provide additional comments (positive or negative) concerning the use of multimedia instructional material in the classroom. Based on these findings, the multimedia-based model was perceived to be more effective than the traditional instruction, and the computer images and animations were perceived to be of high quality. It should be noted that the overall rating for the audio elements was lower than for the other elements used in the MCBI-2 approach. The responses on the open-ended question were quite supportive of the multimedia approach with some suggesting that it be used for the entire semester. One concern that was mentioned by two individuals was the lack of adequate lighting in the room for taking notes. This concern (also shared by the instructor) could have been reduced by using a higher intensity projection device than the one used in this study.
The second attitudinal questionnaire consisted of ten questions that were designed to compare and contrast the two instructional methods. (see Table 4). This questionnaire also included an open-ended statement requesting respondents to provide any additional comments that they had regarding comparisons of the multimedia computer-based instruction with the traditional instructional methods. Students indicated that the multimedia approach (a) was more interesting and enjoyable, (b) was easier to see and read, and (c) improved understanding and retention. The participants also indicated little perceived difference in the extent to which the course was structured and organized.
Table 4 Attitudinal Comparisons of the Multimedia-Based and Traditional Approache
Question Student Response (%) Strongly
1 The muldimedia instructional method was more effective than the traditional method of instruction. - 5 5 65 25 2 The multimedia instructional method was more interesting than the traditional method of instruction. - - 10 45 45 3 Time passed more quickly during the multimedia presentation sessions than during the sessions. 5 10 10 50 25 4 The multimedia sessions were more enjoyable than the traditional instructional sessions. - - 15 45 40 5 The multimedia presentations made the lectures more organized than the traditional method of instruction. - - 55 30 15 6 The multimedia presentations were easier to see and read than the traditional method of instruction. - - 5 70 25 7 The multimedia presentations helped me understand the material more than the traditional method of instruction. - - 5 70 25 8 The multimedia presentations helped me remember the material more than the traditional method of instruction. - 5 35 40 20 9 The multimedia presentations helped me pay attention more than the traditional method of instruction. - 10 25 25 40 10 Overall, I preferred the multimedia presentations more than the traditional method of instruction - 5 - 50 45 Note. Dashes indicated that no student chose this category.
Instructional Time Required
The fourth research question focused on instructional time. This question was designed to examine the amount of time needed to present the information, rather than the time required to review the materials addressed in research question five. No appreciable difference was detected between the two methods. Both required approximately the same amount of time to present the material as reported in a time log maintained by the researcher. One explanation for this similarity could be related to the type of information that was covered during the treatment period. Specifically, the material required relatively little use of the chalkboard in order to explain the concepts. Had the treatment required more extensive use of this tool, the contrast in time required would likely have been more pronounced. For example, when covering topics such as auxiliary views and more advanced descriptive geometry problem layouts, considerable time is spent using the chalkboard to explain the process. However, if the same problem or solution layout were to be solved in advance on the computer and then presented through the use of multimedia, considerably less instructional time would have been required.
Preparation and Development Time
The final research question concentrated on the time required to produce the instructional materials. Specifically, the researcher asked, "What amount of time will be required to create the instructional material for the MCBI-2 format compared to the traditional instruction format?" The findings indicated that a large difference existed between the two methods. The average time requirement to create the instructional material for the traditional method was approximately eight hours per 50-minute lecture. Since transparencies were extensively used for the traditional instruction, the majority of the development time went into creating still-image transparencies. These transparencies were all originals that were created by the instructor using both black and white graphic illustrations. Of the total development time, approximately 60% was spent in the instructional design process (determining what should be covered), while 40% was spent actively creating the transparencies.
In contrast, the time required to produce the MCBI-2 materials for the same 50- minute instructional period was approximately 200 hours, (i.e., the equivalent of four hours per instructional minute). Similar to the traditional instruction approach, approximately 60% of the designated time was devoted to the instructional design process, and 40% was dedicated to creating and authoring of the finished product. These estimates do not include the time required to learn the software and hardware configurations necessary to create the MCBI-2 materials. The findings related to this research question correspond with those reported in other MCBI industry-related publications. In discussing MCBI development time, Allen (1996) reported that an average of 200 hours is spent per hour (3.33 hours per minute) of CBT (MCBI). The average number of hours of CBT created by companies annually is 30 hours. Of that complete development time, approximately 59% of that time is spent in the instructional design process, the other 41% of time is spent creating media and authoring (p. 2).
There are various reasons for the large disparity in production time. First, in the MCBI-2 approach, considerable time was concentrated on creating an effective and aesthetically pleasing background (or "boilerplate") image for use throughout the presentation. Second, a substantial amount of time was required to generate the numerous color rendered 2-D and 3-D images that were used throughout the MCBI-2. Another time-consuming factor was the planning and creation of the animations and simulations. Considerable time was devoted to locating and implementing appropriate audio clips. A final factor was the significant amount of time needed to author all of the multimedia components (i.e., 2-D & 3-D still images, animations, audio clips, etc.) into an interactive finished product. In contrast, most of these processes were not required for the development of materials used in the traditional approach.
Discussion and Implications
Benefits of the Media-Based Approach
The results of this study indicate that MCBI-2 holds promise for improving teaching of technical graphics. The significantly higher scores of the treatment group, coupled with the positive findings on the attitudinal questionnaire support the use of MCBI-2 over the traditional techniques presently used.
One of the most promising and positive features of multimedia-based instruction has to do with capturing and maintaining students' attention. Those who work in the communications industry (especially advertising) are aware of the importance of capturing the viewer's attention. Cognitive learning theory recognizes that attention is a finite resource that can be directed toward only a few processes at one time. Furthermore, it is important to note that greater attention is required for unfamiliar material, which is inherent in most instructional situations. As a result, multimedia designers and developers must strive to gain, direct, and even provide relief for learners' attention (Taylor, 1992). Taylor (1992) addresses this aspect of multimedia, including a caution. In the events of instruction model (Gagne, 1985), gaining attention serves as the "wake up" call for learning: it prepares the stage for learning and can be coordinated with orienting devices, such as advance organizers (Ausubel, 1963) and stimulating the recall of previously learned information. Multimedia, because of its novelty, is currently a premier device for attention-getting. However, attention-getting should be used cautiously (getting does not guarantee holding attention). For example, it would not be prudent to waste a large part of the system resources on a flashy opening sequence, and then use a text-only presentation during the remainder of the instructional program. It is easy to irritate users and lose their attention if high expectations are not fulfilled; the designer should be careful to deliver on all promises, or the result could easily be a net negative effect. (p. 3)
Another advantage of using MCBI-2 is the ability to provide students with opportunities to revisit the information subsequent to the presentation of the lesson. This can occur in numerous ways, including constructing a web site containing the information or providing students with access to original MCBI-2 computer files, which could be formatted for use on any computer platform.
Another secondary benefit available to instructors who develop their own MCBI-2 is the technical expertise they can acquire while working with various hardware and graphics-related software. This benefit is particularly important for technical graphics instructors who must stay current with computer applications (e.g., computer-aided design/drafting) in order to remain current in the field. Hofstetter (1994) emphasizes this need, stating that "multimedia literacy is fast emerging as a basic skill that will be as important to life in the twenty-first century as reading is now" (p. 7).
Presentation of Instructional Material
Although the time required to actually present the instructional material for both formats (MCBI-2 & traditional instruction) proved to be relatively equal in this study, the longer setup times required for media-based instruction (i.e., connecting computers, LCD panels, overhead projectors, special lighting, etc.) remain problematic. Since the equipment used in this study was shared by other instructors, it was necessary to assemble, configure, and disassemble components for each MCBI-2 presentation, which took approximately 20 extra minutes for each period. If MCBI-2 is to be a viable and attractive alternative for instructors, a dedicated multimedia presentation room should be provided for instructional use. This would eliminate the need for "setup" and "breakdown." Another possibility would be to provide access to a mobile unit with preconfigured components that could be shared by numerous individuals.
Another aspect of multimedia that warrants additional study has to do with the extensive amount of time required to generate MCBI-2 materials compared with the traditional instruction. The time required to create an effective computer-based multimedia presentation is extensive when compared to creating a still image on transparency film for use on an overhead projector. A major development effort will require a substantial amount of money, long hours, human resources, and significant personal commitment to the project. In many ways, developing a new software [courseware] program is like starting your own business. You must ask the question, "How much am I willing to risk for a somewhat uncertain return?" ("So you want to publish academic software," 1995) Given that the development of multimedia instructional material is very time- consuming, additional empirical research is needed in order to investigate its effectiveness in increasing student learning.
Limitations Relating to the Data Analysis
As noted earlier, one limitation of this study was the inability to randomize the assignment of students into groups. The implications of this limitation were discussed previously in this article.
A second possible consideration, focusing primarily on the quantitative aspects of research questions one and two, is the relatively small number of students who participated in the study. During the administration of the first quantitative assessment tool (posttest-1), there were 21 students in the treatment group and 16 in the control group. When the second test (posttest-2) was administered at the end of the semester, 18 students were in the treatment group and 14 were in the control group. This consideration could conceivably affect the generalizability of the study to a larger population. A third concern relates to the Hawthorne effect. Since students in the treatment group knew they were involved in a study, this awareness may have affected their actions and may have skewed the findings.
The range of multimedia-based instructional development is quite broad, ranging from relatively simple productions consisting of text combined with clip art or other digitized images, to interactive and dynamic presentations. As finished products evolve from simple to more complex linear slideshows and interactive presentations, the time requirement, level of difficulty, and equipment needs increase dramatically. Based on these factors, the following recommendations are provided for faculty and teacher educators.
- Administrators should explore ways of providing release time to enable instructors to develop MCBI-2. Given the potential for increased student interest and enhanced learning, significant investment in new learning and teaching strategies should be encouraged.
- As multimedia-based materials are developed and as existing materials are used, it will be critically important to conduct research to ascertain which aspects, techniques, and models are most effective and efficient.
- Teacher training institutions and colleges with programs in technical graphics should provide students with instruction on issues related to creating and implementing multimedia-based technologies. The use of the computer as a tool for presenting information or selling products will continue to grow in both the educational and business worlds. These tools are particularly well-suited for educational disciplines (e.g., technical graphics) that deal with both 2-D and 3-D images, illustrations, drawings, models, and animations/simulations.
- Teacher training institutions should provide in-service training to technical graphics instructors who need assistance in implementing MCBI-2 in their programs.
- Educators who wish to produce MCBI-2 but lack the time and expertise to devote to its development should consider having students help with the process. Many students bring considerable background and interest in multimedia development to their programs and would benefit from learning new technical content as they help to develop multimedia presentations.
- Technical graphics instructors should examine materials that have been produced by others. As interest in multimedia continues to grow, it can be anticipated that high quality MCBI-2 products will soon be made available to technical graphics instructors (along with other technical education disciplines) for use out of the box or with the ability to be customized to meet the needs of individual instructors.
- As appropriate, and when copyright restrictions are clearly understood, instructors should use materials on CDs that are provided with textbooks.
- Instructors should have high quality equipment available that (a) requires little or no setup time, (b) provides fast playback of the instructional material, and (c) projects a bright/clear high resolution image on the projection screen. With the proper projection system, classroom lights could be as bright as necessary when using MCBI-2 for easier note-taking by students and for more effective communication between the instructor and students.
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