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The research in both cognitive load theory and multimedia principles for learning indicates presenting information using both diagrams and accompanying audio explanations yields better learning performance than using diagrams with text explanations. While this is a common practice in introductory programming courses, often called "live coding," it has yet to be empirically tested. This paper reports on an experiment to determine if auditory explanations of code result in improved learning performance over written explanations. Students were shown videos explaining short code segments one of three ways: text only explanations, auditory only explanations, or both text and auditory explanations, thus replicating experiments from other domains. The results from this study do not support the findings from other disciplines and we offer explanations for why this may be the case.


Published by ACM in the Proceedings of the 2017 ACM Conference on International Computing Education Research (ICER '17), on August 14, 2017, and can be accessed at