2. Signaling Principle

Last week we looked at the Coherence Principle of Multimedia Learning.  In that principle we explored the effects of extraneous information.  This week we dive into the Signaling Principle, in which we try to focus attention on items that need to be learned

Using the Signaling Principle means using cues to help guide your student’s attention to where the relevant elements of the material is, or, to highlight the organization of essential material. 

Signaling can be in the form of text based cues, picture based cues, vocal cues, or might include cueing elements in written text and pictures that go together.

Check out this video from Wisc-Online:

“The Signaling Principle.” (length 3:48)


Even when only looking at text, there is a great opportunity for signaling.  Look at the example below that comes straight from the UAS website. The example on the left has only one signal (the blue text for links), while the example on the right has signaling to help you navigate the page.

Both the left and right examples above have the exact same text – but the example on the right includes signaling to help the learner.

The example on the left does have links in blue (which actually is a signal that these are links!!), but look at the difference when you use blocking techniques, different fonts and sizes, and different colors to emphasis the information you want to convey.

Using the signaling principle can help to promote learning by drawing attention to essential information.  Any time there is a chance that the student may be distracted by extraneous material would be a great time for signaling!!

Next week we look at the Redundancy Principle.  Thanks for reading the FLC!!

Mayer, R. (2014). The Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning, Second Edition. New York City: Cambridge University Press.

“The Signaling Principle.” YouTube, Wisc-Online, 23 Oct. 2017, www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENGjwO-kKpc.