Learning from Multiple Representations: Roles of Task Interventions and Individual Differences

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Learning from multiple representations (MRs) is not an easy task for most people, despite how easy it is for experts. Different combinations of representations (e.g., text + photograph, graph + formula, map + diagram) pose different challenges for learners, but across the literature researchers find these to be challenging learning tasks. Each representation typically includes some unique information, as well as some information shared with the other representation(s). Finding one piece of information is only somewhat challenging, but linking information across representations and especially making inferences are very challenging and important parts of using multiple representations for learning. Coordination of multiple representations skills are rarely taught in classrooms, despite the fact that learners are frequently tested on them. Learning from MRs depends on the specific learning tasks posed, learner characteristics, the specifics of which representation(s) are used, and the design of each representation. These various factors act separately and in combination (which can be compensatory, additive, or interactive). Learning tasks can be differentially effective depending on learner characteristics, especially prior knowledge, self-regulation, and age/grade. Learning tasks should be designed keeping this differential effectiveness in mind, and researchers should test for such interactions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHandbook of Learning from Multiple Representations and Perspectives
EditorsPeggy Van Meter, Alexandra List, Doug Lombardi, Panayiota Kendeou
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9780429443961
ISBN (Print)9780367001179, 9780367001162
StatePublished - Mar 19 2020

Publication series

NameEducational Psychology Handbook


  • Individual differences
  • Learning task × individual difference interactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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