GUEST POST: Cut It Out: Learning with Seductive Details

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GUEST POST: Cut It Out: Learning with Seductive Details

NarayanKripa Sundararajan (Kripa Sundar), PhD, is the Learning Science Specialist at ISTE, where she manages initiatives to incorporate learning sciences in edtech procurement, policy, and classroom practice. At Washington State University, where Kripa finished her PhD, her research focused on instructional strategies (such as concept mapping and retrieval practice) and the role of individual differences on the effect of including seductive details in instructional material. You can follow her on Twitter: @KripaSundar

A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. Sometimes, we use pictures to practice dual-coding. Other times, we use pictures, jokes, fun facts, etc. to provide some much-needed respite. Have you ever wondered the trade-off with your audience’s learning? 

If you’ve heard of the seductive details effect, you probably have. Or, if you read Young’s post on designing better PowerPoint material, you probably have.

Seductive details can be text, images, audio, gifs, memes, animations – anything that is tangentially related to the content, interesting, and irrelevant to the learning objective (1) (2). The seductive details effect refers to the phenomenon where learners learn worse when seductive details are included than when they are excluded (3). Nothing can be that simple, can it?

Turns out – it is that simple