Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Communication Studies

Committee Chair

Alan Goodboy

Committee Member

Matthew Martin

Committee Member

Megan Dillow

Committee Member

Zachary Johnson


The purpose of this dissertation was to conduct an experimental study exploring the applicability of multimedia principles of effective instructional design to Zoom teaching. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, educators across higher education were forced to rapidly transition from traditional face-to-face instruction to online teaching. One of the most common ways in which colleges and universities navigated this transition in the United States was via mass adoption of the video conferencing platform Zoom. However, best practices have not yet been identified to assist instructors inexperienced with online teaching in adapting to remote instruction via Zoom. This dissertation argued that longstanding principles of effective multimedia designed based on the cognitive theory of multimedia learning (CTML) may be conducive to more effective teaching and enhanced student learning via Zoom - particularly the signaling principle, embodiment principle, and generative activity principle. This dissertation hypothesized that an instructor's implementation of these three multimedia principles in a Zoom lesson would decrease the likelihood of overwhelming students' finite information processing capacity and, in turn, improve students' performance on a post-lesson quiz, as well as inquired whether this effect would vary based upon the extent to which students were self-regulated. This dissertation also hypothesized that an instructor's implementation of these three multimedia principles in a Zoom lesson would increase students' level of reported affect for their instructor. Participants were 140 undergraduate students who were randomly assigned to attend an online lesson in which an instructor either utilized Zoom features to enact CTML-based principles or refrained from doing so. Following the lesson, students completed a questionnaire which included a 10-question test related to the content presented during the lesson, as well as instruments assessing students’ working memory overload, familiarity with lesson content, interest in lesson content, GPA, self-regulation, and affect toward their instructor. Findings revealed that that the incorporation of CTML principles during instruction directly improved participants' performance on the post-lesson test, as well as increased students’ affect toward their instructor. In contrast, participants did not exhibit significantly different levels of working memory overload between experimental conditions, nor did working memory overload mediate the effect of CTML-based instruction on students’ post-lesson test scores as hypothesized. Altogether, the results of this dissertation suggest that instructors can enhance their students’ online synchronous learning experiences by capitalizing on the affordances of Zoom to enact CTML-based principles of instructional design. These findings, their implications for theory and teaching, and limitations of this dissertation and how they might be addressed by future research are discussed.