4 Citations (Scopus)
188 Downloads (Pure)


The modality effect in multimedia learning suggests that pictures are best accompanied by audio explanations rather than text, but this finding has not been replicated in computing education. We investigate which instructional modality works best as an accompaniment for algorithm visualizations. In a randomized controlled trial, learners were split into three conditions who viewed an instructional video on Dijkstra's algorithm, with diagrams accompanied by audio, text, or both. We find neither a modality effect in favor of the audio condition nor a verbal redundancy effect in favor of using only a single modality rather than both. Taken together with earlier research, our findings suggest that the modality effect is difficult to apply reliably and computing educators should not rush to integrate audio into visualizations in expectation of the effect. We discuss theoretical viewpoints that future research should attend to; these include alternative part-explanations of the modality effect and attention-based models of working memory, among others.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationICER 2021 - Proceedings of the 17th ACM Conference on International Computing Education Research
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4503-8326-4
Publication statusPublished - 16 Aug 2021
MoE publication typeA4 Conference publication
EventACM Conference on International Computing Education Research - Virtual, Online
Duration: 16 Aug 202119 Aug 2021
Conference number: 17


ConferenceACM Conference on International Computing Education Research
Abbreviated titleICER
CityVirtual, Online
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'Algorithm Visualization and the Elusive Modality Effect'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this