People learn better from words and pictures than from pictures alone. This is the multimedia principle, which has been at the heart of research on multimedia learning and instruction for the past twenty-five years. The fruits of this research effort are exemplified in Multimedia Learning: Second Edition (Mayer, 2009) and The Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning: Second Edition (Mayer, 2014), which Merrill (2015) states is “the world’s most comprehensive statement of and summary of research on principles of instruction” because “virtually all instruction has become multimedia” (p. 49). In the past decade we have seen growing consensus for the multimedia principle as one of the most recognized principles of instruction (Butcher, 2014; Halpern, Graesser, & Hackel, 2007; O’Neil, 2005; Pashler, Bain, Bottage, Graesser, Koedinger, McDaniel, & Metcalfe, 2007).
This chapter provides updated evidence concerning the multimedia principle and explores its boundary conditions. In particular, we provide evidence concerning (a) whether the multimedia principle depends on the experience level of the learners and (b) whether the multimedia principle depends on the graphics being static (illustrations or photos) or dynamic (animations or video).