Aesthetics and e-assessment: The interplay of emotional design and learner performance

Charles D Miller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study has been to examine the impacts of aesthetic design on learner experience in an e-assessment environment, specifically on cognitive load and task performance. Sixty-six postsecondary students were randomly assigned to one of two aesthetic design configurations of the e-assessment environment: (1) an environment with low consideration to aesthetic design (i.e., designed to provide the utility and usability necessary to complete the tasks), and (2) the same environment (i.e., identical utility, task objectives, and task media) designed with several aesthetic enhancements to heighten the learner experience. Findings suggest that aesthetic design significantly decreased participant cognitive load and increased participant satisfaction, willingness to continue use, voluntary self-assessment time, and task performance. Qualitative data support these findings. The results of this study provide practical insights for designers exploring the valuable relationship between aesthetic design and the learner experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)307-337
Number of pages31
JournalDistance Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1 2011


  • aesthetics
  • cognitive load
  • e-assessment
  • emotional design
  • learner experience
  • task performance


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