Jan L. Plass

Paulette Goddard Chair in Digital Media and Learning Sciences

Jan L. Plass

Phone: 212.998.5520

Jan L. Plass is the inaugural holder of the Paulette Goddard chair in Digital Media and Learning Sciences in the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University, where he directs the programs in Educational Communication and Technology. He also co-directs the Games for Learning Institute and is the founding director of the CREATE Consortium for Research and Evaluation of Advanced Technology in Education. His research is at the intersection of learning science, cognitive sciences, and design, and seeks to enhance the design and effectiveness of visual environments. His current focus is on cognitive and emotional aspects of information design and interaction design of simulations and educational games for science education and second language acquisition. He has received funding for his research from the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences, the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and, from Microsoft Research, Google Resarch, the Motorola Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation, and the Hewlett foundation. Dr. Plass received his MA in Mathematics and Physics Education and his Ph.D. in Educational Technologies from Erfurt University (PH Erfurt, Germany).


Degrees Held

  • M.A. Erfurt University (PH Erfurt), Germany 1990
    Mathematics and Physics Education
  • Ph.D. Erfurt University (PH Erfurt), Germany 1994
    Educational Technology

Video Profile

NYU Institute for Games for Learning

Dr. Plass is Co-Director of the Games for Learning Institute (G4LI) , a collaboration of nine partner universities with support from Microsoft Research and the Motorola Foundation. G4LI is dedicated to advancing the design, use, and evaluation of computer games in formal and informal educational settings. The Institute works to provide fundamental scientific evidence of "what works" in games for learning - what makes certain games compelling and playable, and what design elements make games effective for learning. The results provide critically important information to researchers, game developers, and educators, and point the way to a new era of using games for the purpose of learning.

Center for Research and Evaluation of Advanced Technologies in Education

Dr. Plass is the founding director of CREATE, the Center for Research and Evaluation of Advanced Technologies in Education , which is engaged in research on the design, critique, and evaluation of advanced visual technologies for learning. CREATE's mission is to advance the cognitive science and socio-cultural foundations of the educational use of these advanced technologies, develop methods and approaches for the design of technology-based materials based on principles derived from theoretically-sound foundations, implement models, frameworks, and examples of constructionist and instructionist applications based on these methods and principles, and develop and apply methods and criteria for the evaluation of such environments.

Research Interests

  • Simulations and Games for Learning
  • Information Architecture, Information Design, and Interaction Design for Learning Environments
  • Cognitive Science, Learning Sciences, Educational Technologies
  • Cognitive and Emotional Factors in Educational Design
  • Cognitive Load Theory
  • Science Learning
  • Second-Language Acquisition


Editorial Boards

  • 2013-present: American Educational Research Journal, section on Teaching, Learning, and Human Development (TLHD)
  • 2011-present: Educational Psychology Review
  • 2008-present: Journal of Computing in Higher Education (Springer)
  • 2006-2008: Educational Technology Research and Development (AECT-Springer), Editorial Board Member
  • 2005-present: Computers in Human Behavior (Elsevier), Editorial Board Member
  • 2002-Present: Journal of Educational Psychology (APA), Editorial Board Member
  • 2001-Present: Journal of Research on Technology in Education (ISTE), Editorial Board Member
  • 2002-Present: International Journal on E-Learning (AACE), Editorial Board Member

Selected Publications

  • Plass, J.L., & Schwartz, R.N. (2014). Multimedia Learning with Simulations and Microworlds. In R.E. Mayer (Ed.), Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning (2nd ed), pp. 729–761. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press. (view)
  • Homer, B.D., & Plass, J.L. (2014). Level of Interactivity and Executive Functions as Predictors of Learning in Computer-based Chemistry Simulations. Computers in Human Behavior, 36, 365–375. (link)
  • Schwartz, R., & Plass, J.L. (2014). User-performed tasks and the enactment effect in an interactive multimedia environment. Computers in Human Behavior, 33, 242–255. Doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2014.01.012 (link)
  • Homer, B.D., Kinzer, C., Plass, J.L., Letourneau, S., Hoffman, D., Hayward, E., Turkay, S., Bromley, M., Kornak, Y. (2014). Moved to Learn: The Effects of Interactivity in a Kinect-based Literacy Game for Beginning Readers. Computers and Education, 74, 37–49. Doi: 10.1016/j.compedu.2014.01.007 (link)
  • O’Keefe, P., Letourneau, S.M., Milne, C., Homer, B.D., Schwartz, R.N., & Plass, J.L. (2014). Learning from Multiple Representations: An Examination of Fixation Patterns In A Science Simulation. Computers in Human Behavior. Doi: 10.1016/j.chb.2014.02.040 (link)
  • Schwartz, R.N., Milne, C., Homer, B.D., & Plass, J.L. (2013). Designing and Implementing Effective Animations and Simulations for Chemistry Learning. In Suits, J.P., & Sanger, M.J. (Eds). Pedagogic Roles of Animations and Simulations in Chemistry Courses (pp. 43-76). ACS Press.
  • Plass, J.L., Homer, B.D., Kinzer, C.K., Chang, Y.K., Frye, J., Kaczetow, W, Isbister, K., Perlin, K. (2013). Metrics in Simulations and Games for Learning. In A. Drachen, M.S. El-Nasr, and A. Canossa, Game Analytics. (pp. 697-729). New York: Springer. (link)
  • Song, H.S., Nick, M.W., Pusic, M., Sarpel, U., Plass, J.L., and Kalet, A.L. (2014). The cognitive impact of interactive design features for learning complex materials in medical education. Computers and Education, 71, 198-205, doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2013.09.017
  • Plass, J.L., O’Keefe, P., Homer, B.D., Hayward, E.O., Stein, M, & Perlin, K. (2013). Motivational and Cognitive Outcomes Associated with Individual, Competitive, and Collaborative Game Play. Special Issue on Advanced Learning Technologies. Journal of Educational Psychology. doi: 10.1037/a0032688 (view)
  • Plass, J.L., Heidig, S., Hayward, E.O., Homer, B.D., & Um, E.J. (2014). Emotional Design in Multimedia Learning: Effects of Shape and Color on Affect and Learning. Learning and Instruction, 29, 128–140. doi:10.1016/j.learninstruc.2013.02.006 (view)
  • Kalet, A., Ellaway, R., Song, H.S., Nick, M., Sarpel, U., Hopkins, M.A., Hill, J., Plass, J.L., Pusic, M. (2013). Factors Influencing Medical Student Attrition and their Implications in a Large Multi- Center Randomized Education Trial. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 18, 439–450. doi:10.1007/s10459-012-9382-z
  • Kalet, A.; Song, H. S; Schwartz, R.; Brenner, J.; Ark, T.; Plass, J. L (2012). Just enough, but not too much interactivity leads to better clinical skills performance after a computer assisted learning module. Medical Teacher, 34(10), 833-839. doi:10.3109/0142159X.2012.706727 - (link)
  • Homer, B.D., Hayward, E.O., Frye, J., & Plass, J.L. (2012). Gender and Player Characteristics in Video Game Play of Preadolescents. Computers in Human Behavior25(5), 1782-1789. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2012.04.018 (view)
  • Plass, J.L., Milne, C., Homer, B.D., Jordan, T., Schwartz, R.N., Hayward, E.O., Verkuilen, J., Ng, F., Wang, Y., & Barrientos, J. (2012, January 19). Investigating the Effectiveness of Computer Simulations for Chemistry Learning. Special Issue on Large-Scale Interventions in Science Education for Diverse Student Groups in Varied Educational Settings. Journal of Research in Science Teaching. Advance online publication. DOI: 10.1002/tea.21008 (view)
  • Aronson, I., Plass, J.L., & Bania, T.C. (2012, January). Optimizing educational video through comparative effectiveness trials in clinical environments. Educational Technology Research and Development. Advance online publication. DOI: 10.1007/s11423-011-9231-4
  • Um, E., Plass, J. L., Hayward, E. O., & Homer, B. D. (2011, December 19). Emotional Design in Multimedia Learning. Journal of Educational Psychology. Advance online publication. DOI: 10.1037/a0026609 (view)
  • Song, H.S., Kalet, A., & Plass, J.L. (2011). Assessing Medical Students' Self-regulation as Aptitude in Computer-based Learning. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 16(1), 97-107.
  • Villalta, M., Gajardo, I., Nussbaum, M., Andreu, J.J., Echeverria, A., & Plass, J.L. (2011). Design guidelines for Classroom Multiplayer Presential Games (CMPG). Computers in Education, 57, 2039–2053. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2011.05.003
  • Domagk, S., Schwartz, R., & Plass, J.L. (2010). Interactivity in Multimedia Learning: An Integrated Model. Computers in Human Behavior, 26, 1024–1033. doi:10.1016/j.chb.2010.03.003 (view)
  • Homer, B.D. & Plass, J.L. (2010). Expertise reversal for iconic representations in science simulations. Instructional Science, 38, 259–276.
  • Plass, J.L., Homer, B.D., & Hayward, E. (2009). Design Factors for Educationally Effective Animations and Simulations. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 21(1), 31-61 (view)
  • Kalyuga, S., & Plass, J.L. (2008). Evaluating and managing cognitive load in educational games. In R.E. Ferdig (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Effective Electronic Gaming in Education, Volume II, pp. 719-737. IGI Global Press.
  • Plass, J.L., Homer, B.D., Milne, C., Jordan, T., Kalyuga, S., Kim, M., & Lee, H.J. (2009). Design Factors for Effective Science Simulations: Representation of Information. International Journal of Gaming and Computer-Mediated Simulations, 1(1), 16-35. (view)
  • Homer, B.D., Plass, & Blake, L. (2008). The Effects of Video on Cognitive Load and Social Presence in Multimedia-Learning. Computers in Human Behavior, 24, 786-797.
  • Song, H., Kalet, A. L., & Plass, J. L. (2008). Expertise reversal effects: Can we hurt our learners with poorly designed or targeted web-module instruction? Journal of General Internal Medicine, 23, 301-301.
  • Song, H., Kalet, A. L., Ort, V. M., Hochberg, M., Plass, J. L. (2008). Understanding learning strategies of medical students associated with better academic achievement. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 23, 429-430.
  • Lee, H., Plass, J.L., & Homer, B.D. (2006). Optimizing cognitive load for learning from computer-based science simulations. Journal of Educational Psychology, 89, 902-913.
  • Kröner, S., & Plass, J.L., & Leutner, D. (2005). Intelligence Assessment with Computer Simulations. Intelligence, 33, 347–368.
  • Wallen, E., Plass, J.L., & Brünken, R. (2005). The Function of Annotations in the Comprehension of Scientific Texts – Cognitive Load Effects and the Impact of Verbal Ability. Educational Technology Research and Development. Special Issue: Research on Cognitive Load Theory and Its Design Implications for E-Learning, 53(3), 59–72.
  • Brünken, R., Plass, J.L., & Leutner, D. (2004). Assessment of cognitive load in multimedia learning with dual-task methodology: Auditory load and modality effects. Instructional Science, 32, 115–132.
  • Soto Mas, F.G., Plass, J.L., Kane, W.M., Papenfuss, R.L. (2003). Health Promotion and Multimedia Learning: Educational Psychology and Health Behavior Theory (Part 2). Health Promotion Practice, 4, 464–469.
  • Soto Mas, F.G., Plass, J.L., Kane, W.M., Papenfuss, R.L. (2003). Health Promotion and Multimedia Learning: Educational Psychology and Health Behavior Theory (Part 1). Health Promotion Practice, 4, 288–292.
  • Plass, J.L., Chun, D.M., Mayer, R.E., & Leutner, D. (2003). Cognitive load in reading a foreign language text with multimedia aids and the influence of verbal and spatial abilities. Computers in Human Behavior, 19, 221-243.
  • Plass, J.L., & Salisbury, M.W. (2002). A living systems design model for web-based knowledge management systems. Educational Technology Research & Development, 50, 35-58.
  • Jones, L.C., & Plass, J.L. (2002). Supporting listening comprehension and vocabulary acquisition with multimedia annotations. The Modern Language Journal, 86, 546-561.
  • Brünken, R., Steinbacher, S., Plass, J.L., & Leutner, D. (2002). Assessment of cognitive load in multimedia learning using dual-task methodology. Experimental Psychology, 49, 109–119.
  • Salisbury, M.W., & Plass, J.L. (2001). A conceptual framework for a knowledge management system. Human Resources Development International, 4, 451-464.
  • Salisbury, M.W., & Plass, J.L. (2001). Design and development of a web-based knowledge management system. Journal of Interactive Instruction Development, 14, 23-29.
  • Plass, J.L. (1999). Lernpsychologische Grundlagen der Verwendung von Multimedia in der Fremdsprachenausbildung. Fremdsprachen Lehren und Lernen, 28, 14-32.
  • Leutner, D., & Plass, J.L. (1998). Measuring learning styles with questionnaires versus direct observation of preferential choice behavior in authentic learning situations: The Visualizer/ Verbalizer Behavior Observation Scale (VV-BOS). Computers in Human
  • Plass, J.L. (1998). Design and evaluation of the user interface of foreign language multimedia software: A cognitive approach. Language Learning and Technology [Online serial], 2(1), 35-45. (link)
  • Schmitz, C.C., Risucci, D., Plass, J.L., Jones, A., DaRosa, D.A. (2011). Pre-Implementation Predictors of Website Use: Preliminary Findings from the SCORE Portal Pilot Study. The American Journal of Surgery, 201(1), 7–15.
  • Plass, J.L., Chun, D.M., Mayer, R.E., & Leutner, D. (1998). Supporting visual and verbal learning preferences in a second language multimedia learning environment. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90, 25-36.
  • Chun, D.M., & Plass, J.L. (1997). Research on text comprehension with multimedia. Language Learning and Technology [Online serial], 1(1), 60-81. (link)