A Theoretical Analysis of How Segmentation of Dynamic Visualizations Optimizes Students' Learning

Ingrid A. E. Spanjers*, Tamara van Gog, Jeroen J. G. van Merrienboer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

78 Citations (Web of Science)


This article reviews studies investigating segmentation of dynamic visualizations (i.e., showing dynamic visualizations in pieces with pauses in between) and discusses two not mutually exclusive processes that might underlie the effectiveness of segmentation. First, cognitive activities needed for dealing with the transience of dynamic visualizations impose extraneous cognitive load, which may hinder learning. Segmentation may reduce the negative effect of this load by dividing animations into smaller units of information and providing pauses between segments that give students time for the necessary cognitive activities after each of those units of information. Second, event segmentation theory states that people mentally segment dynamic visualizations during perception (i.e., divide the information shown in pieces). Segmentation of dynamic visualisation could cue relevant segments to students, which may aid them in perceiving the structure underlying the process or procedure shown.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-423
JournalEducational Psychology Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


  • Dynamic visualizations
  • Animations
  • Segmentation
  • Cognitive load
  • Learning

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