Multimedia learning is a form of learning that uses pictures and words to connect with the brain’s ability to process verbal and visual representations of information. With the advancement in technology, it has become more and more prevalent in our daily lives with learning and research. Some forms of multimedia learning include PowerPoint slide presentations and lecture audio and video recordings. Mayer’s research on multimedia learning refers to the cognitive load theory which outlines how to best approach multimedia learning in order to maximize its effectiveness. The cognitive load theory states that there are 3 types of cognitive loads, extraneous load, intrinsic load, and germane load. Extraneous load refers to the cognitive load that is allocated to process something that does not support the learning outcome, intrinsic load refers to the cognitive load that is required to utilize working memory which is based on its complexity and difficulty to learning, and germane load refers to the cognitive load that is required to understand material which is heavily influenced by the attitude or motivation of the learner. Moreover, Mayer’s cognitive theory also makes 3 assumptions of how the brain processes information, the dual-channel assumption, limited-capacity assumption, and active-process assumption. The dual-channel assumption states that “humans process separate channels for processing visual and auditory information”, the limited-capacity assumption states that humans have an upper limit on the information that they can process at a single time, at any given time, and the active-processing assumption states that humans do not actually learn and understand just by passively observing and absorbing information, it states that humans must have some cognitive interaction with the material in order to truly learn the material.


Mayer, R. E. (2009). Multimedia learning (2nd ed.). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. Retrieved from: