Current Research: Richard E. Mayer
Dr. Mayer's main interest is in determining how people learn (i.e., the science of learning) and how to help people learn (i.e., the science of instruction). Dr. Mayer's research concerns the intersection of cognition, instruction, and technology, including: (1) multimedia learning, such as determining how people learn scientific explanations from computer-based animation, video and narration; how illustrations affect how people learn from scientific text; or how people learn to solve problems from computer games, simulations, and virtual reality environments; (2) human-computer interaction, such as investigating how novices learn to interact with computers, how to design e-learning environments and computer games that promote learning, or how people learn with on-line pedagogical agents; and (3) mathematical problem solving, such as analyzing the process of solving mathematics story problems and determining the effectiveness of features of on-line tutors designed to teach people how to solve mathematics problems.
Dr. Mayer is concerned with how to present information in ways that help people understand, including how to use words and pictures to explain scientific and mathematical concepts. His research is motivated by the question, "How can we help people learn in ways that allow them to use what they have learned to solve new problems that they have never seen before?" Building on cognitive science theories of how people learn, he has developed a cognitive of theory of multimedia learning relevant to the design of on-line instruction. During the past two decades years he and his colleagues have conducted over 100 experimental tests leading to 12 research-based principles for how to design on-line learning environments and computer-based games.Current research grants from the Institute of Education Sciences and the Office of Naval Research include studies investigating how people learn with on-line tutors in computer-based mathematics and science lessons, determining which features of educational games promote deep learning, determining the cognitive consequences of playing computer games, using eye-tracking methodology and cognitive neuroscience methodology to determine how people learn from multimedia lessons, and investigating how the gestures and voice of an on-screen pedagogical agent affect student learning from an online lesson. The unifying goal of these projects is to conduct methodologically rigorous studies that yield research-based principles of instructional design and contribute to cognitive science theories of how people learn.