Emotional and cognitive interest: How creating situational interest affects learning with multimedia
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There is disagreement in scientific literature over the educational benefits of generating situational interest (Rey, 2012). Situational interest refers to the positive affect and sustained attention triggered by features of a particular context (Hidi & Renninger, 2006). Some studies show that interesting information can be highly motivating, thus enhancing learning. but other studies find it can hinder learning. There is some limited evidence that the seductive detail effect is due to additional cognitive load, disruption of meaningful information pathways, or the priming of inappropriate schema. Therefore, this effect may be weakened if the emotionally interesting information is relevant to the main idea. The findings from the following research show that irrelevant interesting material can produce the seductive detail effect only under certain conditions. No effects were found due to relevant and interesting details. Harp & Mayer (1997) had proposed that creating cognitive interest, rather than emotional interest, is a more effective strategy for engaging students and improving learning because the material can cue the relationships among concepts for easier processing. Hidi & Renninger (2006) argue that the distinction between emotional and cognitive dimensions is artificial and faulty. This research was able to replicate beneficial results from cognitive interest studies but did not find any evidence as to whether emotional and cognitive interests are the same or separate constructs. The problem was due to the operationalization of cognitive interest in previous studies, as well as the lack of validation for the strategies utilized to manipulate levels of cognitive interest.