On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic, and within 10 days, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that all 50 U.S. states had confirmed cases of the virus.

Facing a national mandate of social distancing, most U.S. workers needed training on how to use tools and technologies required to do their jobs virtually. As a result, HRD professionals needed to quickly transition their practice onto virtual platforms with the most effective strategies for delivering learning content. Research findings have evidenced the presence of the modality effect, which states that learning is more significant when educational material is received in an audio-visual format compared to a visual-only design (Mayer & Moreno, 1998; Moreno & Mayer, 1999).

However, this finding is limited to posttests immediately following the intervention (Mayer, Dow, & Mayer, 2003; Tabbers, Martens, & van Merriënboer, 2004). This study sought to empirically test the modality effect in working and long-term memory by assessing recall of a treatment group (nT1-tmt = 162, nT2-tmt = 122) and control group (nT1-cntl = 243, nT2-cntl = 99) immediately following a two and one-half minute lesson and again one week later, respectively. t tests statistically and practically confirmed the presence of the modality effect at Time 1. The treatment group outperformed the control group at Time 2; however, the findings were practically insignificant.

Date of publication

Winter 12-18-2020

Document Type




Persistent identifier


Committee members

Kim Nimon, Ph.D., Andrea Ellinger, Ph.D., and Gloria Duke, Ph.D.


Human Resource Development Ph.D.