Do details bug you? Effects of perceptual richness in learning about biological change


People often have difficulty in understanding processes of biological change, and they typically reject drastic life cycle changes such as metamorphosis, except for animals with which they are familiar. Even after a lesson about metamorphosis, people often do not generalize to animals not seen during the lesson. This might be partially due to the perceptual richness of the diagrams typically used during lessons on metamorphosis, which serves to emphasize the individual animal rather than a class of animals. In two studies, we examined whether the perceptual richness of a diagram influences adults’ learning and transfer of knowledge about metamorphosis. One study was conducted in a laboratory setting, and the other was online. In both studies, adults who saw the bland diagram during the lesson accurately transferred more than adults who saw the rich diagram during the lesson.

Applied Cognitive Psychology, 34, 1101-1117
David Menendez
David Menendez
Postdoctoral Research fellow

My research interests include cognitive development, diagrams, and STEM education