Tracy Boyer Clark multimedia thesis


In the past decade, the use of interactive modules and multimedia presentations has gained popularity, and subsequently brought with it numerous questions regarding its significance. Specifically, how do users consume information differently depending on presentation method?

I first suggest a universal definition of the terms “multimedia” and “interactivity” by analyzing its previous usage across the fields of academia, journalism, advertising, and marketing.

I then detail a small-scale qualitative study that gauged short-term user retention rates and satisfaction levels of six passive and six interactive multimedia presentations on “Gen Y” users (born 1980-1992). Data from the study, while not conclusive, suggest that users retain ever so slightly more information when viewing passive multimedia, but consider their experience as more enjoyable when viewing interactive multimedia. The preliminary findings from this study lay the foundation for further, larger-scale quantitative research to more comprehensively determine impacts on the end user dependent upon multimedia format.


Multimedia is the integration of multiple media formats in a presentation. For example, digital multimedia could include both a video and interactive graphic to depict a story. “New media” journalists utilize multimedia storytelling to appeal to the interests of a larger, and younger, audience by incorporating several media types to strengthen a story.

Younger generations of consumers have grown up with multimedia and technology, and thus are more inclined to expect multimedia in all facets of their information-seeking activities.
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Literature Review

Previous research has defined multimedia and interactivity in a variety of ways. Furthermore, the relationship between the two is also of great importance and has been thoroughly debated over the years. First, I analyze numerous definitions and provide universal concepts of each.

Beyond classifying multimedia and interactivity, it is also important to note the fields of study where researchers utilized these concepts, as well as what findings they discovered. Thus, I then analyze past research conducted in the fields of marketing, journalism, academia, and advertising, respectively. → Continue Reading


Methodology and Study Findings

The following details a small-scale qualitative study that was conducted to assess short-term retention rates and satisfaction levels against the passive and interactive multimedia formats on Gen Y users. In order to most closely mimic the natural viewing conditions of a user, test subjects were not monitored during their interaction time with the stimuli. Furthermore, no commentary regarding each stimulus was discussed during the testing period that might have potentially impacted the findings in the subsequent tasks.
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About the Researcher:

Tracy Boyer is an award-winning multimedia technology strategist, specializing in the intersection of digital media and interactive technology. Currently, Tracy is the first MBA/MSIS dual master’s candidate at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she is studying General Management at Kenan-Flagler Business School and Human-Computer Interaction in the School’s Information Science program. Boyer is currently the managing editor of Innovative Interactivity, a widely read multimedia blog that she founded in 2007.

Previously, she reported on malnutrition in Honduras with The Pulitzer Center, was a multimedia producer at, served as the UNC correspondent for and interned with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In 2007, she was selected to participate in the Poynter Summer Fellowship. Boyer graduated with a multimedia degree from UNC’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Feel free to email Tracy directly with comments, suggestions, and any other feedback related to this research.

View more of her work at