Tablets, cognitive load theory, cognitive theory of multimedia learning, embodied cognition, touchscreen, direct touch, gestures, army, training, applications


Ownership of mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones, has quickly risen in the last decade. Unsurprisingly, they are now being integrated into the training and classroom setting. Specifically, the U.S. Army has mapped out a plan in the Army Learning Model of 2015 to utilize mobile devices for training purposes. However, before these tools can be used effectively, it is important to identify how the tablets' unique properties can be leveraged. For this dissertation, the touch interface and the interactivity that tablets afford were investigated using a procedural-motor task. The procedural motor task was the disassembly procedures of a M4 carbine. This research was motivated by cognitive psychology theories, including Cognitive Load Theory and Embodied Cognition. In two experiments, novices learned rifle disassembly procedures in a narrated multimedia presentation presented on a tablet and then were tested on what they learned during the multimedia training involving a virtual rifle by performing a rifle disassembly on a physical rifle, reassembling the rifle, and taking a written recall test about the disassembly procedures. Spatial ability was also considered as a subject variable. Experiment 1 examined two research questions. The primary research question was whether including multiple forms of interactivity in a multimedia presentation resulted in higher learning outcomes. The secondary research question in Experiment 1 was whether dynamic multimedia fostered better learning outcomes than equivalent static multimedia. To examine the effects of dynamism and interactivity on learning, four multimedia conditions of varying levels of interactivity and dynamism were used. One condition was a 2D phase diagram depicting the before and after of the step with no animation or interactivity. Another condition utilized a non-interactive animation in which participants passively watched an animated presentation of the disassembly procedures. A third condition was the interactive animation in which participants could control the pace of the presentation by tapping a button. The last condition was a rifle disassembly simulation in which participants interacted with a virtual rifle to learn the disassembly procedures. A comparison of the conditions by spatial ability yielded the following results. Interactivity, overall, improved outcomes on the performance measures. However, high spatials outperformed low spatials in the simulation condition and the 2D phase diagram condition. High spatials seemed to be able to compensate for low interactivity and dynamism in the 2D phase diagram condition while enhancing their performance in the rifle disassembly simulation condition. In Experiment 2, the touchscreen interface was examined by investigating how gestures and input modality affected learning the disassembly procedures. Experiment 2 had two primary research questions. The first was whether gestures facilitate learning a procedural-motor task through embodied learning. The second was whether direct touch input using resulted in higher learning outcomes than indirect mouse input. To examine the research questions, three different variations of the rifle disassembly simulation were used. One was identical to that of Experiment 1. Another incorporated gestures to initiate the animation whereby participants traced a gesture arrow representing the motion of the component to learn the procedures. The third condition utilized the same interface as the initial rifle disassembly simulation but included "dummy" gesture arrows that displayed only visual information but did not respond to gesture. This condition was included to see the effects (if any) of the gesture arrows in isolation of the gesture component. Furthermore, direct touch input was compared to indirect mouse input. Once again, spatial ability also was considered. Results from Experiment 2 were inconclusive as no significant effects were found. This may have been due to a ceiling effect of performance. However, spatial ability was a significant predictor of performance across all conditions. Overall, the results of the two experiments support the use of multimedia on a tablet to train a procedural-motor task. In line with vision of ALM 2015, the research support incorporating tablets into U.S. Army training curriculum.


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Graduation Date





Sims, Valerie K.


Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program

Psychology; Human Factors Psychology








Release Date

August 2017

Length of Campus-only Access

3 years

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)


Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences; Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic

Included in

Psychology Commons