The impact of multimedia on Chinese learners' recognition of characters: A quantitative and qualitative study

Ling Wang, Purdue University


This study examined the effectiveness of four different media-based presentation strategies in teaching Chinese characters through three primary indicators: student achievement, student satisfaction with the presentation strategy and student rating of attitude toward learning after the first experience of learning Chinese characters. The theoretical framework for this study consisted of four related areas: theories of learning, visual word recognition, multimedia and CALL. Based on existing models for character recognition and multimedia presentation, this study designed a conceptual model for multimedia presentation of picture-related Chinese characters. The general design for this study was "quantitative-driven mixed method". It began with a quasi-experiment with a 2x2 factorial design and assessment via content-related immediate posttest and a retention test one week later. This experiment was followed by using two Likert-type questionnaires with supplementary open-ended questions and follow up interviews. The quantitative and qualitative research results showed (1) the integration of both auditory input and visual input was the most effective strategy to present picture-related Chinese characters. Animation aids were the major presentation factor that affected students' test performance. Without being accompanied by animation aids, audio aids alone did not produce positive effects. (2) With regard to students' attitude towards presentation strategies, students were most satisfied with the presentation strategy that integrated both audio and animation aids. (3) With regard to students' attitude toward learning Chinese characters, although statistical results showed no significant group difference, neither audio aids nor animation aids affected novice learners' attitude, students' feedback indicated that the use of multimedia could promote their motivation to learn. The research findings were discussed in terms of theoretical and pedagogical implications. An integrated model of multimedia effects on learning a picture-related Chinese character was proposed to highlight that multimedia contributes to the presentation of a picture-related Chinese character and facilitates Chinese character recognition. It also suggests that effective multimedia presentation improve learners' motivation by attracting learners' attention, facilitating the learning process, and increasing students' interest to learn. The limitations of the study were also discussed. Future research should further examine the impact of multimedia on learning not only picture-related but also Chinese characters in general.




Garfinkel, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|Language arts

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