Bétrancourt's home page
we learn from multimedia documents? In other words, how can we build a
mental model of a situation from studying mutually referring text,
still graphics and animation? My research adresses this issue both from
a basic perspective, in order to gain knowledge on cognitive processing
of multimedia information, and from an applied perspective, in order to
provide guidelines to multimedia instruction designers.
recently, I have been developping a new line of research regarding on
the effect of peer-tutoring on metacognitive activities and learning
performance using computer-supported learning environments.
also interested in computer-supported learning in general, and I am
participating in projects on the following topics: computer-supported
collaborative learning, computer-supported writing-to-learn
environments for vocational training, computer-supported
multimedia research topics:
Offprints and papers in progress regarding these
topics are available on my publications
page or on request (email Mireille
Some studies are conducted by master students from the Master in Learning and Teaching Technologies (MALTT)
Following research conducted by Sweller and his
colleagues, this topic deals with the effect of the spatial display of
text-picture information in terms of cognitive processing. Two
experiments were carried out to compare three displays on a computer
screen : "split" display (text and picture information displayed in
separate areas on the screen), "integrated" display (text information
close to the part of the picture to which it referred), and "pop-up"
display (text information integrated in pop-up fields which appeared
only under the userÕs action). In both experiments, the
results showed that the integrated display and to a greater extent the
pop-up display led to higher performances for an equal or lower
learning time. Thus, these experiments reinforced the hypothesis that
material where text and picture are integrated improves learning,
especially if text information appears in pop-up fields. Results are
discussed from a theoretical and a practical point of view.
Main publications on this topic:
- Bétrancourt, M. & Bisseret, A.
(1998). Integrating textual and pictorial information via
pop-windows: an experimental study. Behavior and
Information Technology 17 (5), 263-273.
- Bétrancourt, M. & Caro, S.
(1998). Intégrer des informations en escamots dans les
textes techniques : quels effets sur les processus
cognitifs ? in A. Tricot et J.F Rouet (eds.) Hypertextes
et Hypermédias, Concevoir et utiliser les
hypermédias: approches cognitives et ergonomiques.
(pp. 157 - 173), Hermès : Paris
M. (1994). Effet de deux modalités d'intégration
texte-figure dans les documents multimedia. Actes des
Sixièmes Journées sur l'ingénierie de
l'interaction Homme-Machine, IHM'94 (pp 219-224), Lille,
France, 8-9 Décembre.
M. & Bisseret, A. (1993). Interaction texte-figure :
effet de leur disposition spatiale relative sur l'apprentissage. in M.
Baron, R. Gras & J-F. Nicaud (Eds), Environnements
interactifs d'apprentissage avec ordinateur, Troisièmes
journées EIAO de Cachan (pp 65-76),
Paris : Eyrolles.
A text describing a spatial configuration conveys
one possible clustering of elements into parts, and one possible
ordering of these parts, chosen by the writer over many options. The
chosen clustering and ordering help readers construct their
representation of the described object. In contrast, a picture by
itself does not convey the order in which it should be processed. We
assume that displaying a picture sequentially, part by part, in a
meaningful clustering, affect the mental representation elaborated from
the graphics. This simple animation device can guide the construction
of a mental model of the graphic as well as facilitate memory for it.
A first set of experiments was carried out at
INRIA (France) under Prof. André Bisseret's supervision. In
two experiments, a spatial configuration was displayed either
simultaneously or sequentially, according to alternate clustering
strategies. Results showed that participants in the sequential
conditions were not faster in learning the picture than participants in
the simultaneous condition. However, they recalled the picture using
the clustering in which it had been displayed during learning.
Moreover, participants were faster to recognize parts of the picture
that were consistent with the learned clustering. Thus, the results
suggest that the sequential display of a spatial configuration affects
not only its immediate processing, but also the organization of the
representation in memory. A third experiment replicated the same
pattern of results with a more realistic material (a multimedia
document explaining the functionning of the temperature control system
in human body).
This issue was further investigated in a second
set of experiments in collaboration with Prof. Barbara Tversky at
Stanford University. In two experiments, learning from sequentially
organized displays was faster from sequentially random displays.
However, learning sequential displays was not significantly better than
the static display. In all three experiments, order in recall in the
sequential conditions followed the presentation order. In the third
experiment, processing was faster and more accurate using the
organization of the sequential displays. Thus, the way in which spatial
information is temporally clustered and arrayed affects the
organization of elements in the mental representation.
Sequential display was investigated in a
real classroom setting in collaboration with Prof. Cécile
Montarnal at the Grenoble Business School (ESCG).
Main publications on this topic:
- Bétrancourt, M., Dillenbourg, P.
& Montarnal, C. (2003). Computer Technologies in Powerful
learning environments: The case of using animated and interactive
graphics for teaching financial concepts. In E. De Corte, L.
Verschaffel, N. Entwistle & J. van Merrienböer (eds.) Unravelling
basic components and dimensions of powerful learning environments.
(pp 143 - 157) Advances in Learning and Instruction Series, Pergamon:
Elsevier Science Ltd. (pdf)
- Bétrancourt, M., Bisseret, A. &
Faure, A. (2000). Sequential display of pictures and its effect on
mental representations. in J.-F. Rouet, J. J. Levonen and A. Biardeau
(eds.), Multimedia learning: cognitive and instructional
issues. (pp 112-118), EARLI Series "Advances in Learning and
Instruction", Elsiever : The Netherlands.
- Bétrancourt, M. (1999). Sequential
display: an effective alternative to conventional animation. in Proceedings
of the seventh International conference in human-computer interactions
Interact’99 (pp 552-557),
Edinburgh, 30 August - 3 September 99.
With recent technology advances, computers now
offer animated graphic devices, which seem attractive and efficient to
instructional designers. However, the research carried out so far
failed to establish the advantages of using animated graphics over
static ones on learning. Among several problems, animations seem to
increase the learners' cognitive load, hence reducing the cognitive
resources available for learning. Nevertheless, we believe that, beyond
these shortcomings, animations offer unique opportunities to understand
dynamic systems. To bypass these shortcomings, we need to deepen our
understanding of the cognitive benefits that can be expected from
animations in order to turn this understanding into design principles.
A review of the literature on computer animation
in education, human-computer interaction and psychology has been
conducted in collaboration with Prof. Barbara Tversky and Julie
Bauer-Morrison at Stanford University. We first addressed the potential
sources of misunderstanding between disciplines by considering the
referential scope of key terms in our discussion, and especially the
term animation itself. Then, the average findings of 17 studies were
reported. On the basis of these findings, we reviewed the factors which
could influence the users' cognitive processing and we proposed some
guidelines for improving the design of computer animation.
The use of animations is not limited to
user-system communication but is also often used in computer-supported
collaborative learning. In these settings as well, the empirical
studies have not confirmed the benefits that one could intuitively
expect from the use of animations. This lack of positive results may be
explained either in terms of cognitive load, as in user-system
interactions, or may be used to the fact that peers use external
representation to ground their mutual understanding. Our basic claim is
that animation can effectively promote the construction of a mental
model of dynamic systems since animation can depict the micro-steps of
dynamic systems more easily than static graphics. However, the
processing of animation induces a heavy perceptual and memory load. We
assume that the cognitive benefits of animation can appear only if
delivery features are designed in order to decrease this cognitive load
by breaking down the continuous flow of animation in small chunks or by
decreasing the information learners should maintain in working memory.
In the first stage, this project will investigate three delivery
features: the continuity of the information flow, the learner's control
over the pace of animation and the permanence on the screen of previous
stages of the animation. In the second stage, we will investigate
whether the content of the animation should map the conceptual model or
the events as they actually happen. Both the individual and
collaborative setting will be used.
Research on this topic is currently founded by the
Swiss National Science Foundation (2003 -2005) under the name CLEAP.
Main publications on this topic:
- Bétrancourt, M. (2005). The animation
and interactivity principles, in R. E. Mayer (ed.) Handbook
of Multimedia. (pp 287-296), Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press. ( (download
- Bétrancourt, M. & Chassot, A.
(2008). Making sense of animation: how do children explore multimedia
instruction? in R. Lowe and W. Schnotz (eds.) Learning with animation (pp.
141-164), Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press. (download a pre-published
- Bétrancourt, M., Bauer-Morrison, J.
& Tversky, B. (2001). Les animations sont-elles vraiment plus
efficaces ? Revue d’intelligence
artificielle, 14 (1-2), 149-166.
- Bétrancourt, M. & Tversky, B.
(2000). Effect of computer animation on users’performance: a
review. Le travail Humain, 63(4), 311-330.
- Tversky, B. Bauer-Morrison, J., &
Bétrancourt, M. (2002) Animation: Can it facilitate? International
Journal of Human-Computer Studies, 57, 247-262.
and Metacognitive activities in computer-supported learning
learning environments have evolved from the “computer-based
learning” approach, in which resources and activities were
presented in a digital format, to the “computer support for
learning” approach, in which the interactive and
comput-ational potential of computers is used to support the learning
process . The originality of the project lies on the integration of two
theoretical perspectives in a complementary framework: the impact of
metacognitive regulation on learning, and the potential role of traces
of the learning activity in supporting the regulatory processes.
Up to now, research that has documented the important role of
metacognition in learning has devoted much attention to the regulatory
processes. In this view, conscious awareness is generally believed to
be a necessary condition of metacognitive activity. However, the
processes of regulation, such as monitoring and control, often lack
conscious deliberation. We propose a method of confrontation aiming at
supporting conscious awareness of regulation. It consists in
confronting learners with the traces of another learner’s
activity (individually or with a peer-tutoring approach) in order to
explicit the procedures they used to realize the learning task and to
on this topic was founded by the Swiss National Science Foundation
publications on this topic:
- Gagnière, L. Bétrancourt, M.,
Détienne F. & Chabert, G. (2004). Developing a
reflective incentive to encourage metacognitive activities in a
computer-supported collaborative learning environment, Proceedings
of the first EARLI - SIG Meeting on metacognition,
Amsterdam, July 2004.