Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communications Media

First Advisor

Zachary Stiegler, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Mark Piwinsky, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Jay Start, Ph.D.


Current literature probes the connections between the impact of multimedia, cognition, and learning. However, aesthetic quality of multimedia content has received little attention from researchers. This purpose of this experimental study was to determine the effects of three different rates of encoding on information acquisition and retention among college undergraduates. Participants in the study were divided into three groups. Prior to the learning activity, participants were asked to complete a short pretest that gathered demographic information. Then, the participants were sorted into one of three groups. Each group viewed the same three videos; the difference was that each group saw the videos presented in different qualities and in a different order of presentation. Following each video excerpt, questions were asked in order to assess post-viewing recall of information contained in the video. The theoretical framework for the study draws from three distinct yet allied assumptions regarding how people respond to acquire, process and retain information in a multimedia context. Human cognition and processing of incoming sensory information relies on structures that are specifically equipped to handle visual and aural stimuli. Specifically, Information Processing Theory (IPT), Dual-coding theory (DCT), and cognitive theory of multimedia learning (CTM) all contribute to a deeper understanding of how humans process information in the context of a multimedia presentation or environment. Post hoc analyses indicated that post-viewing accuracy scores varied in a statistically significant way depending on video, but differences in accuracy scores were not statistically significant by either video resolution or group. In addition, a two-way analysis of variance yielded a main effect for video content, although the interaction effect between video resolution and specific video was not statistically significant. This study supports the notion that video content, in a streaming context like YouTube, affects information acquisition among college students. It remains to be seen if resolution is a prime determinant in information acquisition through multimedia. Additionally, the results of this study have helped to fill a void in existing research, as previous research in learning cognition and recall in a multimedia environment focused primarily on information processing and cognitive overloading capacities in the learner.