A comparison of the effects of mobile device display size and orientation, and text segmentation on learning, cognitive load, and user perception in a higher education chemistry course




Karam, Angela Marie

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This study aimed to understand the relationship between mobile device screen display size (laptops and smartphones) and text segmentation (continuous text, medium text segments, and small text segments) on learning outcomes, cognitive load, and user perception. This quantitative study occurred during the spring semester of 2015. Seven hundred and seventy-one chemistry students from a higher education university completed one of nine treatments in this 3x3 research design. Data collection took place over four class periods. The study revealed that learning outcomes were not affected by the mobile screen display size or orientation, nor was working memory. However, user perception was affected by the screen display size of the device, and results indicated that participants in the sample felt laptop screens were more acceptable for accessing the digital chemistry text than smartphone screens by a small margin. The study also found that neither learning outcomes, nor working memory was affected by the text segmentation viewed. Though user perception was generally not affected by text segmentation, the study found that for perceived ease of use, participants felt medium text segments were easier to learn from than either continuous or small test segments by a small margin. No interaction affects were found between mobile devices and text segmentation. These findings challenge the findings of some earlier studies that laptops may be better for learning than smartphones because of screen size, landscape orientation is better for learning than portrait orientation in small screen mobile devices, and meaningful text segments may be better for learning than non-meaningful, non-segmented, or overly segmented text. The results of this study suggest that customizing the design to the smartphone screen (as opposed to a one-size-fits-all approach) improves learning from smartphones, making them equal to learning from laptops in terms of learning outcomes and cognitive load, and in some cases, user perspective.



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