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Children's memory and comprehension for a story: Comparison of audio, audio-visual, and interactive CD-ROM media presentation

Christine Marie Ricci, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This study was designed to examine the influence of different media presentations on children's comprehension and memory of a story. Sixty-six first grade children experienced a well-structured story presented either by audio, audio-visual, or interactive CD-ROM media. Within the interactive CD-ROM condition, children either controlled the interactions (participant) or observed another child's interactions with the program (observer). The interactive CD-ROM contained a wide variety of animations and sound effects that were considered mostly irrelevant to the story content. All children received a memory and comprehension interview containing a free recall question, specific factual and inference questions, a picture sequencing task, and media preference questions. Results indicated no difference among the media conditions in terms of children's free recall of the story. However, children's recall of the story categories fit the pattern established by story grammar theory. In terms of the specific memory questions and picture sequencing task, children who just heard the story (audio) performed significantly worse than the children in the other media conditions, even when the questions were based on information that was contained in the narration. All children performed better on the inference than factual questions. Interestingly, there were no differences in terms of memory or comprehension among the audio-visual, participant, and observer interactive CD-ROM media conditions. It appears that watching irrelevant objects and animations did not distract children from comprehending the story. The presence of a well-established story grammar structure may have facilitated children's ability to retain the basic story components despite interruptions. In addition, explorations within the CD-ROM were documented and described for children in the participant interactive media condition. Although there was a surprising amount of variability in children's interactive behavior, it appears that gender may have influenced both the amount and type of interactions with the story program. Results are discussed in terms of the implications for children's multimedia design.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Educational software|Cognitive therapy

Recommended Citation

Ricci, Christine Marie, "Children's memory and comprehension for a story: Comparison of audio, audio-visual, and interactive CD-ROM media presentation" (1998). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9823769.