Empirical Research for PowerPoint Design

PowerPoint Effectiveness

Bartsch, R. A., & Cobern, K. M. (2003). Effectiveness of PowerPoint presentations in lectures. Computers & Education, 41(1), 77-86.

Aim & Rationale:

Do students like and learn more from ppt than overhead transparencies? Does complexity of multi-media presentation influence its effectiveness?

1st Study: 3 presentations:
1. Transparencies
2. Basic ppt – text only
3. Expanded ppt – text, pictures and sound effects
Random exposure during quarter

Main Findings:

Students reported no preference for any method
Students believed they learned more from the PowerPoint presentations

Grades: insignificant differences between transparencies and PowerPoints, but significant between the two types of powerpoints. F(1,10)=6.68, P=0.03.

Possible issue – irrelevant items in expanded PowerPoint may have been distracting and influenced findings.

2nd study – do relevant pictures facilitate or impair learning?
3 PowerPoint presentations: 30 text; ½ text & ½ related images; ½ text & ½ unrelated images.

Researchers read the slide text for all three; Multiple choice quiz to test recall

Main findings:

Students recalled and recognized more facts from the text only and text & related graphics PowerPoints.


Unrelated graphics have a negative effect on learning. (coherence theory)


link to bartsch Full article

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Nouri, H. A. S. (2005). The effect of PowerPoint presentations on student learning and attitudes. Global Perspectives on Accounting Education, 2, 53-73.

Aims & Rationale:

Study whether using PowerPoint in an accounting course enhances student short-term memory, long-term memory, and attitudes toward class presentation and the instructor.

H1: PowerPoint will stimulate students’ short-term memory measured by quizzes.
H2: PowerPoint will stimulate students’ long-term memory measured by exams.
H1a: PowerPoint will interact with students’ preferred representation style, achieving H1
H2a: PowerPoint will interact with students’ preferred representation, achieving H2
H3: Students viewing PowerPoint will have more favorable attitude toward presentation than those without PowerPoint.
H4: Students viewing Powerpoint will have a more favorable attitude toward the instructor.

Presentation Group – PowerPoint, color visuals, graphics and animation.
Control: text-based, black & white visual aids.

Main findings:

Results were mixed and no significant differences between the two groups. H1, H1a, H2, H2a rejected

Students in the PowerPoint groups regarded presentations and instructors more favorably.


Lots of statistics with little results.
Students’ preferred representational style, use of multimedia, and course topics had more of an impact.

link to nouri Full article

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Savoy, A., Proctor, R. W., & Salvendy, G. (2009). Information retention from PowerPoint(TM) and traditional lectures. Computers & Education, 52(4), 858-867.

Aims & Rationale:

How to present information effectively for maximum retention?

  1. What mode most effective for recall/retention?
  2. How does PowerPoint  affect perception of information?
  3. How is amount of information affected by different presentations?

Study the auditory, graphic, and alphanumeric components of lectures
1) no class
2) lecture with no slides
3)  visual info (graphic and alphanumeric) on PowerPoint

H1 – PowerPoint has negative effect on retention of verbalized content
H2 – Information on PowerPoint slides has higher perceived importance than other info (audio)
H3 – More information is retained without PowerPoint than with it
H4 - Students will prefer PowerPoint

Two lectures, each presented with and without PowerPoint on  alternating course days.
Measured performance based on information recall across Bloom’s levels of learning
No class as a control (textbook only)

Main Findings:

H1 – Mean score differences for audio recall F(2,59) = 4.52, p=.02 were statistically significant.  15% higher scores with no PowerPoint.
There were  differences and the traditional and no class presentations
H2 – Differences in recall of visual information between PowerPoint and lecture not significant:
Graphic retention higher with lectures or PowerPoint than no class
Alphanumeric information (text)  recall highest with no class
Visual information with audio support:  score differences not significant
H3 – No significant difference between lecture and PowerPoint
H4 – No strong preference by students between lecture and PowerPoint


PowerPoint is good for visual material
Powerpoint negatively effects recall of auditory information- students retained 15% more
information, delivered verbally by the lecturer, during traditional class presentations than during PowerPoint presentations
Tradition lectures better for dialogue or verbal explanations
Disconnect between student preference and performance
Attending a class with or without PowerPoint generally better than relying only on textbook

link to savoy Full article

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Stephenson, J. E., Brown, C., & Griffin, D. K. (2008). Electronic delivery of lectures in the university environment: An empirical comparison of three delivery styles. Computers & Education, 50(3), 640-651.

Aims and Rationale:

Study the efficacy and popularity of virtual lectures (text based structured electronic courseware, with interaction and multi-media, internal navigation), e-lectures ( audio annotated PowerPoint with controls), and traditional classroom lecture with PowerPoint.

Three models developed by the same lecturer with the same content.
Content rotated among classes
Assessment based on Bloom’s taxonomy

Main findings:

Best results for levels of learning
Knowledge – traditional
Comprehension – virtual
Application – traditional
Analysis – traditional
Evaluation – traditional
Interactions between learning level and delivery type complex and varied



Differing modes of delivery can affect the different depths of learning as
classified by Bloom’s taxonomy. Therefore, a variety of learning platforms are best.  Hybrid course format looks promising. Provides suggestions for how to mix delivery for best results.

Potential research problems: only 56 students
Does not address student experience with technology, dynamics of lecturer.
Interactivity in virtual lectures could have an impact.
Student ability to review virtual and e-lectures could have impact

link to stephenson Full article

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Sugahara, S., & Boland, G. (Writer) (2006). The Effectiveness of PowerPoint presentations in the Accounting Classroom [Article], Accounting Education: Routledge.

Aims & Rationale:

Study whether student preference for Powerpoint has an effect on their academic performance in an accounting classroom.

H1: students’ preferences with regard to PowerPoint have no significant effect on their academic performance
Independent variables: attendance, gender, aptitude, preference for accounting

Main Findings:

Student preference for PowerPoint does not reflect in their academic performance.
Differences not significant between those who preferred white board or PowerPoint presentations, although whiteboard groups’ scores were higher.

Students downloading of PowerPoint handouts corresponded to their preference for PowerPoint.


Possible explanation for negative results:
Students may take less notes with PowerPoint.
Bad effects of PowerPoint may overwhelm good effects.
Slides used may have contained too much distractive material (coherence effect).

link to sugaharaFull article

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