Date of Original Version

Spring 2016



Abstract or Description

In recent years, PowerPoint presentations have become the medium of choice for high school and college educators. Research on images in these presentations has determined that relevant diagrams and graphics improve learning in science and engineering fields; however, there has been little research on images in the humanities, where diagrams are less common. This study first surveyed college students to determine which images are considered informative and which are considered decorative. Using these results, I presented a new group of participants with humanities content accompanied by different image types. Participants then took a quiz on the content. Quiz results seem to indicate that the images deemed “informative” and text-only slides aided retention the most. A surprising finding was how often SmartArt and images accidentally contradicted the slide’s main ideas and hurt retention. This finding could help educators and presenters avoid using contradictory or backfiring visuals. This report concludes with a recommendation for a usability test that presenters can use to assess the efficacy of their slide visuals.


Advisor: Joanna Wolfe

Department of English

Embargo Date