Effects of complexity-determined system pausing on learning from multimedia presentations

Tzu Chien Liu*, Yi Chun Lin, Slava Kalyuga

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


System pausing at pre-determined positions during multimedia presentations can enhance multimedia learning. However, the pause positions are usually set up based on the structure of the learning material (e.g., segmentation principle) rather than on the complexity of its different sections (as determined by levels of element interactivity, according to cognitive load theory). This study investigated the effectiveness of complexity-determined system pauses positioned either before or after complex (high element interactivity) sections of a slideshow multimedia presentation. The study adopted a single-factor between-subjects design and randomly assigned 128 undergraduates to four experimental conditions, namely (1) pausing before high element interactivity, (2) pausing after high element interactivity, (3) learner pausing and (4) no pausing. The research results revealed that complexity-determined system pausing approaches and learner pausing resulted in better test performance and instructional efficiency than the continuous presentation without pausing. The findings suggest that pauses allow students more time to deal with learning contents with high element interactivity, thus reducing potential cognitive overload and resulting in better performance compared with continuous presentation. However, no significant difference was found between the two types of system pausing and learner pausing in all measures. Implications for practice or policy: • Instructional designers could insert pauses before or after learning contents with high complexity when designing dynamic multimedia presentations. • Instructional designers could combine system pausing and learner pausing when designing dynamic multimedia presentations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-114
Number of pages13
JournalAustralasian Journal of Educational Technology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Cognitive load theory
  • Element interactivity
  • Learner pausing
  • Multimedia
  • Quantitative
  • System pausing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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