Personalization Principle

Scenario: You have been working on a script for a narrated lesson. As a teacher, you are convinced that a more relaxed, less formal conversational style is the way to go. However, you need to get this approved by your instructional design team, one of whom is an English major and a stickler for “proper” English and grammar. When you show him your script, he is aghast. How might you respond?

I would recommend to the instructional design team to incorporate the personalization principle in multimedia presentations.  Research has shown that it helps learners develop a personal connection with the instruction allowing them to be better engaged.  When they’re better engaged, they put more effort into processing information and understanding which will equate to deeper levels of learning.  If we find that the learners are at a higher level, I would still emphasize that advanced learners could benefit from the added personalization.   Until more evidence can be found to show that it detracts learning for advanced learners, I would recommend using the guidance from this principle.  Some of the instructional design team members stated they were concerned about the content being too personal.  I would assure them that personalization does not mean careless and informal.  We could make a presentation personal without sacrificing a professional look.  Several techniques are available to create a presentation that is both friendly and professional.  One would be to add an on-screen agent to serve as a visual reference and help deliver the narrations.  The character could appear with appropriate attire and look to ensure proper formality.  In three of the experiments that were carried out, students who used an on-screen character scored 28-48 percent higher on exams.  A human voice could also be used for narrations.  It would help to create a stronger social presence allowing learners to respond better to the instructional content.  I would also recommend making  sentences in first and second person active voice rather than passive voice.  So for example, instead of using, “a plant will be designed,” it would be better to use, “you will design a plant.” The test results showed that sentences changed in this manner had effect sizes in the range of .79 to 1.55.

Clark, R.C., & Mayer, R.E. (2011). Applying the personalization principle. E-learning and the science of instruction (pp.179-203). San Francisco: Pfeiffer.


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