The use of animation to promote student learning about the importance of mental well-being for tertiary study success

Huggins, Anna, Pappalardo, Kylie M., Duffy, James, Field, Rachael M., & James, William (2015) The use of animation to promote student learning about the importance of mental well-being for tertiary study success. In International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning (ISSOTL) 2013 : Critical Transitions In Teaching And Learning, 27-30 October 2015, Melbourne, Australia.


It is now widely acknowledged that student mental well-being is a critical factor in the tertiary student learning experience and is important to student learning success. The issue of student mental well-being also has implications for effective student transition out of university and into the world of work. It is therefore vital that intentional strategies are adopted by universities both within the formal curriculum, and outside it, to promote student well-being and to work proactively and preventatively to avoid a decline in student psychological well-being. This paper describes how the Queensland University of Technology Law School is using animation to teach students about the importance for their learning success of the protection of their mental well-being.

Mayer and Moreno (2002) define an animation as an external representation with three main characteristics: (1) it is a pictorial representation, (2) it depicts apparent movement, and (3) it consists of objects that are artificially created through drawing or some other modelling technique. Research into the effectiveness of animation as a tool for tertiary student learning engagement is relatively new and growing field of enquiry. Nash argues, for example, that animations provide a “rich, immersive environment [that] encourages action and interactivity, which overcome an often dehumanizing learning management system approach” (Nash, 2009, 25). Nicholas states that contemporary millennial students in universities today, have been immersed in animated multimedia since their birth and in fact need multimedia to learn and communicate effectively (2008). However, it has also been established, for example through the work of Lowe (2003, 2004, 2008) that animations can place additional perceptual, attentional, and cognitive demands on students that they are not always equipped to cope with.

There are many different genres of animation. The dominant style of animation used in the university learning environment is expository animation. This approach is a useful tool for visualising dynamic processes and is used to support student understanding of subjects and themes that might otherwise be perceived as theoretically difficult and disengaging. It is also a form of animation that can be constructed to avoid any potential negative impact on cognitive load that the animated genre might have. However, the nature of expository animation has limitations for engaging students, and can present as clinical and static. For this reason, the project applied Kombartzky, Ploetzner, Schlag, and Metz’s (2010) cognitive strategy for effective student learning from expository animation, and developed a hybrid form of animation that takes advantage of the best elements of expository animation techniques along with more engaging short narrative techniques.

First, the paper examines the existing literature on the use of animation in tertiary educational contexts. Second, the paper describes how animation was used at QUT Law School to teach students about the issue of mental well-being and its importance to their learning success. Finally, the paper analyses the potential of the use of animation, and of the cognitive strategy and animation approach trialled in the project, as a teaching tool for the promotion of student learning about the importance of mental well-being.

Impact and interest:

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

78 since deposited on 30 Nov 2015
66 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 90867
Item Type: Conference Item (Presentation)
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: animation, mental health, psycholical distress, tertiary success, I Belong
ISSN: 2413-7359
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100)
Divisions: Current > Schools > School of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2015 The authors
Deposited On: 30 Nov 2015 06:12
Last Modified: 30 Nov 2015 06:12

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page