Prior research has documented that text readability varies among introductory accounting textbooks, but few studies in any discipline have documented the extent to which illustrations vary, and even fewer studies have explored how these variations might impact student learning. We report results of a content analysis of introductory financial accounting textbooks that reveal diversity in how illustrations are used, in ways that depart from normative recommendations in the education literature. We then conduct an experiment to test whether two of these variations, illustration function and placement, interact to affect student learning. We find that students learn more when decorational images precede rather than follow corresponding text and when conceptual images follow rather than precede corresponding text. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

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