Use of Multimedia in an Introductory College Biology Course to Improve Comprehension of Complex Material


Many factors lead to discouraging experiences for students, particularly those have difficulty with complex materials. With the use of multimedia, instructional methods that accommodate and support a broader scope of student capabilities is essential to quality education. This article explores the use of multimedia in an introductory college biology course and examines the successes and concerns with the inclusion of multimedia within the curriculum.



Many students who have the ability to succeed in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines are often alienated by the traditional instructional methods encountered within introductory courses; as a result, attrition from STEM fields is highest after completion of these courses. This is especially true for females. The present study examined the use of teacher-designed multimedia within an introductory biology course. A mixed-methods approach was used to assess the relationship between the use of multimedia and the amount of information students comprehended when learning photosynthesis in a real class setting. Also, the relationship between the use of multimedia and learning gains of females was examined. It was determined that multimedia significantly increased learning gains of female students compared to the use of static pictures and text. In addition, preliminary indications are that multimedia had the greatest value for second-tier students with lower prior knowledge levels, and this was often females.

Rhodes, A., Rozell, T., & Shroyer, G. (2014). Use of multimedia in an introductory college biology course to improve comprehension of complex material. Journal of Educational Multimedia and Hypermedia, 23(3), 285-303.