Media Comparison Research

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Media Comparison Research

There have been considerable debate on research of media comparison as it relates to education over the past few years. According to Richard Clark, there has been a "paradigm shift" that occurred in instructional media research during the past decade from a behavioral to a more cognitive approach. (Anglin 348).

Clark felt that there was "consistent evidence found that there are no learning benefits to be gained from employing any specific medium to deliver instruction. Research showing performance on time saving gains from one or another medium is shown to be vulnerable to compelling rival hypothesis concerning the uncontrolled effects of instructional method and novelty. (Clark 445)

Media Defined:

Media refers to a class of instructional resources and representing all aspects of the mediation of instruction through the agency of reproducible events. It includes the materials themselves, the instruments used to deliver the materials to learners and the techniques or methods employed. (Allen 1)

Media can be defined by its technology, symbol systems and processing capabilities. The most obvious characteristics of a medium are its technology: the mechanical and electronic aspects that determine its function and, to some extent, its shape and other physical features. (Kozma 180)

Basics of Media Research

There are three major objectives of media research: (1) obtain knowledge about the educational or instructional effectiveness of a chosen medium; (2) increase understanding of how media and technology function and what psychological effects they have on a learner; (3) improve the practice of education through the provision and evaluation of better materials, media, procedures and technologies (Salomon, Clark 1-2).

Schramm, as cited by Salomon, stated that while all media can teach very effectively, "learning seem to be affected more by what is delivered than by the delivery system." (Schramm, 1977) (Salomon 1). This has become the basis of disagreement among experts.


Clark’s article argued that most current summaries and meta-analyses of media comparison studies clearly suggest that media do not influence learning under any conditions. In El Salvador (Schramm, 1977), it was not the medium that caused a change in achievement, but rather a curricular reform that accompanied the change. The best current evidence is that media are mere vehicles that deliver instruction but do not influence student achievement any more than the truck that delivers our groceries causes changes in our nutrition.
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