Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Instructional Technology

Major Professor

Carine Feyten, Co-chair

Co-Major Professor

William Kealy, Co-chair

Committee Member

Robert Dedrick

Committee Member

Jeffra Flaitz

Committee Member

James White


Animation, Dual Coding, German Grammar, Computer Assisted Language Learning


This study investigated the effects of animation for a technology-assisted German grammar presentation on modal verbs. The premise was that many intangible concepts of dynamic grammar involve syntactic components that possess visuo–spatial characteristics. It was further speculated that these characteristics could be more effectively represented by animated versus static instructional presentations.

The supposition that animation would lend pedagogical advantage was supported by dual coding theory (Paivio, 1971, 1990), which posits two functionally separate representational systems, the verbal and the nonverbal, with dynamic mental imagery residing solely in the nonverbal system. The strength of dually coded information is that it is represented in both subsystems and, due to referential associations that cross between the two, is more easily retained and recalled. When verbal explanations are accompanied by illustrations depicting their content, it can provide external support for the learner's mental simulations of that content.

Under two treatment conditions, 44 university students of beginning German (GER 101) received large-screen multimedia instruction concerning the meanings and conjugated forms of German modal auxiliary verbs, and the grammatical rules which govern sentence structure. The independent variable was the type of visualization: static or animated text. The dependent variables were participants’ total test scores as well as their individual scores on each of two task types: conjugation and word order. In addition, a posttest survey asked participants for their opinions of the instructional treatments.

Participants in both treatment groups achieved high scores on the posttest with no significant difference between them; however, the posttest survey showed that the groups did differ significantly in their opinions of the treatments, with those in the animated group reporting more positive reactions to the presentation. Detailed planning and lengthy preparation of both treatments may explain the high scores for both groups, and the elementary nature of the content may also account for the resulting ceiling effect. Animation should be studied further, especially with respect to more complex tasks, as well as in concert with other aspects of multimedia, such as interactivity, user-control, practice, and feedback.