Effectiveness of PowerPoint Presentations in Lectures

Robert A. Bartsch, Kristi M. Cobern


We investigated whether students liked and learned more from PowerPoint presentations than from overhead transparencies. Students were exposed to lectures supported by transparencies and two different types of PowerPoint presentations. At the end of the semester, students preferred PowerPoint presentations but this preference was not found on ratings taken immediately after the lectures. Students performed worse on quizzes when PowerPoint presentations included non-text items such as pictures and sound effects. A second study further examined these findings. In this study participants were shown PowerPoint slides that contained only text, contained text and a relevant picture, and contained text with a picture that was not relevant. Students performed worse on recall and recognition tasks and had greater dislike for slides with pictures that were not relevant. We conclude that PowerPoint can be beneficial, but material that is not pertinent to the presentation can be harmful to students' learning.


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