Assertion evidence versus traditional PowerPoint: an investigation of the impact of slide structure on engineering students’ cognitive load, motivation, and performance
Engineers are typically asked to create slides to present their technical presentations in conferences, classrooms, and meetings. The vast majority of slides used by engineers follow a traditional PowerPoint style of a topic-subtopic structure. Contrary to the traditional bulleted PowerPoint, the Assertion-evidence (AE) slide structure replaces default phrase headlines with a succinct sentence, containing the main idea of the slide. While prior research has demonstrated that the AE style of presentations is effective towards audience comprehension of the presentation material, there is limited research on the effectiveness of AE slides for the presenters’ comprehension. The main goal of this study was to examine the impact of slide structure (AE or Traditional PowerPoint) on engineering students’ cognitive load, motivation, and performance. In order to assess this research goal, an exploratory study was conducted with 108 engineering students at Kuwait University where a group of students were asked to design slides using Assertion Evidence style of presentations and another group were asked to design slides using Traditional PowerPoint template. The main findings from this study highlighted that participants in the Assertion-Evidence group had a lower perceived cognitive workload than participants that designed slides using the Traditional PowerPoint template. However, slide structure did not impact participants’ motivation, self-efficacy, and understanding of the presentation material. The results from this research can be used to drive effective communication of technical presentations in engineering.