Reflecting on Richard E. Clark’s Reconsidering Research on Learning from Media

Just as there are many types of vehicles or modes of transportation in the world, there are many varieties of media and tools that can aide students to become both a producer and consumer of knowledge. In reviewing Richard Clark’s (1983) article entitled “Reconsidering Research on Learning from Media”, I found many interesting parallels to current discussions regarding quality and reliability of online media content.

Clark (1983) stated that “media does not influence learning or student achievement under any circumstances.” He offers the analogy of media as a vehicle “delivering instruction” and compares media’s role to that of a “grocery truck delivering nutritious food.” Clark suggests that research scientists concentrate on media attributes to instructional design, attitudes towards media, and focus on instructional methods instead of media.

The problem with Clark’s analogy, is found in the many generalizations. If the truck has a higher operation cost, that passes the cost to the consumer who now can’t afford quality food.

In 1983, the world did not have the choices and technologies available today. Students are now not only consumers of media, but have the ability to contribute content to a global audience. The questions surrounding the issues of media are more complex. Nutritional content, accessibly, ease of intake, research, creation tools, and ease of feedback offer students new opportunities and learning approaches that were previously unavailable.

Clark is correct in his assessment on the importance of the quality of instruction. The teacher is the most important contributor and can greatly influence learning. Another famous Clarke (1980) stated in Electronic Tutors, “Any teacher who can be replaced by a computer….should be”.

Clark, R. E. (1983). Reconsidering research on learning from media. Review of Educational Research, 53(4), 445-459. Retrieved from

Clarke, A. (1980). Electronic tutors .


About instructionaltechnologist101

Instructional Technologist 1 to 1, Avid change agent, Mac Enthusiastic, Implemented K12 1:1 program, managed offsite curriculum center in community museum, learner, PhD student in Educational Technology at University of North Texas. The future is now!

Posted on September 30, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. The only problem with this post is that it falsely claims that Clark does not account for the cost of different media. What he says in the referenced article is that media may differ in cost (speed of access, cost of production) but will not differ in the learning or achievement of learners who use the media.

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