The cognitive load theory


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The Cognitive Load Theory

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The cognitive load theory

  1. 1. “A theory that focuses the load on working memory during instruction.” John Sweller The Cognitive Load Theory SD, MC, SY, RS
  2. 2. Overview John Sweller’s paper, “Implications of Cognitive Load Theory for Multimedia Learning” describes the human cognitive architecture, and the need to apply sound instructional design principles based on our knowledge of the brain and memory. Sweller first describes the different types of memory, and how both are interrelated, because schemas held in long- term memory, acting as a “central executive”, directly affect the manner in which information is synthesized in working memory. Sweller then explains that in the absence of schemas, instructional guidance must provide a substitute for learners to develop either own schemas. Source:
  3. 3. The Theory… Sweller discusses, in his view, three types of cognitive load: Diagram: • extraneous cognitive load • intrinsic cognitive load •germane cognitive load
  4. 4. Intrinsic Cognitive Load First described by Chandler and Sweller, intrinsic cognitive load is the idea that all instruction has an inherent difficulty associated with it (for instance, calculating 5+5). This inherent difficulty may not be altered by an instructor. However many schemas may be broken into individual “subschemas” and taught in isolation, to be later brought back together and described as a combined whole. Source:
  5. 5. Intrinsic Cognitive Load Intrinsic load is the “thinking” part of cognitive learning theory. For example, if one were learning the mechanics of 2+2 for the first time, one would have to think about the combination of two items with another two items. Essentially, one would have two items, then another item (3) and then another item (4). The amount of “thinking” or “intrinsic load” affects the learning capacity. Another key component is the way in which the material is presented. Source :
  6. 6. Extraneous Cognitive Load Extraneous cognitive load, by contrast, is under the control of instructional designers. This form of cognitive load is generated by the manner in which information is presented to learners (i.e., the design). To illustrate an example of extraneous cognitive load, assume there are at least two possible ways to describe a geometric shape like a triangle. An instructor could describe a triangle verbally, but to show a diagram of a triangle is much better because the learner does not have to deal with extraneous, unnecessary information. Source:
  7. 7. Extraneous Cognitive Load Extraneous cognitive load is the “materials” part of cognitive learning theory. Imagine that a teacher asks a student to turn to page 54 in her book, locate section 2.1 and solve problem 3. However, when the student turns to that page in the book, it looks like the following: This will present some unnecessary extraneous cognitive load. Source :
  8. 8. Extraneous Cognitive Load Due to lack of images on the previous page, the student will be bombarded with extraneous cognitive load. However, the student would be under much less load with a page similar to this: Source :
  9. 9. Germane Cognitive Load Germane load is a third kind of cognitive load which is encouraged to be promoted. Germane load is the load dedicated to the processing, construction and automation of schemas. While intrinsic load is generally thought to be immutable, instructional designers can manipulate extraneous and germane load. It is suggested that they limit extraneous load and promote germane load. Source:
  10. 10. Germane Cognitive Load • Germane load is the load used in forming new schemas. • Think back to our example of 2+2 for a moment. As an adult, we do not have to think about have two items, then adding another, then adding another. We already know that 2+2=4. • We use this knowledge to solve high level problems. For example, one could quickly tell me that 1,001,242 + 2 = 1,001,244 • These rules do not change. These areSource :
  11. 11. Memory Complex
  12. 12. Implications Working memory is extremely limited. Long term memory is essentially unlimited. The process of learning requires working memory to be actively engaged in the comprehension (and processing) of instructional material to encode to- be-learned information into long term memory. If the resources of working memory are exceeded then learning will be
  13. 13. Classroom Implications  The goal of the instructor should be to reduce extraneous cognitive load and increase germane cognitive load. Instructors can accomplish this in a variety of ways: A. Change problem solving methods to avoid means-ends approaches that impose a heavy working memory load by using goal-free problems or worked examples. B.Physically integrate multiple sources of information whenever possible to eliminate the need for learners to have to mentally integrate that information which increases the load on working memory. C.Reduce redundancy and repetitive information whenever possible so that the load on working memory is lessened. D.Use auditory and visual information under conditions where both sources of information are essential (i.e. non- redundant) to understanding. This helps increase the capacity of working memory.
  14. 14. Additional Implications... … Especially with textbooks! • Because a textbook page is all text it takes more time finding the first problem. • A students eyes have to refer back to the example on the previous page, if that’s the case. • The student is feels worried because of the time limit on the assignment. They want to go out with their friends tonight and do not want to have to do homework or stay late after school. • The student wishes that the two students in front of them would stop whispering and they silently swear at the squeaky desk.11/23/10
  15. 15. Technological Application The Cognitive Load Theory can be implemented into the technologically-enabled classroom in many ways. PowerPoints are a great way to provide graphics and text together, while computer activities can provide worked examples and practice.
  16. 16. A Teacher Technological Application The Cognitive Load Theory can be implemented into the technologically-enabled classroom in many ways. PowerPoints are a great way to provide graphics and text together, while computer activities can provide worked examples and practice.
  17. 17. A Teacher Technological Application Technology can reduce the effort devoted to tedious computations and increase students’ focus on more important mathematics. Two elements of successful integrations: Focusing Student Thinking Making Ideas Tangible %20Handhelds.pdf PICTURE: imgurl= Bp8=&h=240&w=320&sz=29&hl=en&start=15&zoom=1&tbnid=QHS8GihpPaPopM:&tbnh=121&tbnw=165&prev=/images%3Fq%3D%2522mathematical %3D1345%26bih%3D550%26tbs %3Disch:10%2C190&um=1&itbs=1&iact=hc&vpx=346&vpy=263&dur=474&hovh=192&hovw=256&tx=101&ty=212&ei=JNLrTI3rLI64sQOx4PiWDw&oei =l9HrTMLEO8HflgfnwYCHAg&esq=28&page=2&ndsp=28&ved=1t:429,r:2,s:15&biw=1345&bih=550
  18. 18. A Teacher Technological Application Focusing Student Thinking A. More realistic or important problems. B. Exploration and sense- making with multiple representations. C. Development of flexible strategies. D. Mathematical meaning and concepts. %20Handhelds.pdf PICTURE: imgurl= dQY9jvbhRq0xI=&h=390&w=581&sz=26&hl=en&start=94&zoom=1&tbnid=rkKFr8wXcxuV4M:&tbnh=113&tbnw=182&prev=/images%3Fq%3D%2522mathematical%2Bconcepts%2522%2B%2522technology%2522%26um NcWeccmUqYsP&biw=1345&bih=550&iact=rc&dur=183&oei=l9HrTMLEO8HflgfnwYCHAg&esq=6&page=5&ndsp=25&ved=1t:429,r:8,s:94&tx=151&ty=51
  19. 19. A Teacher Technological Application  Making Ideas Tangible A. Build upon students’ prior knowledge and skills. B. Emphasize the connections among mathematical concepts. C. Connect abstractions to real-world settings. D. Address common misunderstandings. E. Introduce more advanced ideas. %20Handhelds.pdf PICTURE: cKIPfuNrd4HgbFay968vFHto=&h=600&w=800&sz=135&hl=en&start=167&zoom=1&tbnid=av89gbkwc5yc0M:&tbnh=122&tbnw=163&prev=/images%3Fq%3D %3Disch:1&um=1&itbs=1&iact=rc&dur=331&ei=YNTrTP27L8-5cb2fybEP&oei=UtTrTL2cKYP7lwe04Mj7AQ&esq=5&page=8&ndsp=27&ved=1t:429,r:2,s:167&tx=109&ty=51
  20. 20. Technological Distraction Instructors with access to technology may be tempted to use it as much as possible in the classroom. While technology can be helpful, due to the idea of extraneous cognitive load it may also be a distraction. For example, the Coherence Effect states that peoples’ learning is hindered when extraneous sound, pictures, and words are used in teaching. Therefore, instructors should avoid using distracting pictures or sounds in PowerPoint presentations. Also, the Modality Effect states that people learn better when words are presented as speech rather than onscreen text, so teachers should not rely solely on technology such as a computer screen or a PowerPoint to provide information. Source:
  21. 21. • This theory is best applied in the area of instructional design and complex material. With this a learner should be encouraged to use their limited working memory appropriately. In order to use this affectively, recognizing the role and the limitation of working memory to help develop quality instruction is key. Although this theory has many implications, if used correctly can be effective. However, we must remember to keep cognitive load of learners at Personal Affliction
  22. 22. Sources: Sweller, J. (1988). “Cognitive load during problem solving: Effects on learning”. Cognitive Science 12 (2): 257–285. Sweller, J., Van Merriënboer, J., & Paas, F. (1998). “Cognitive architecture and instructional design”. Educational Psychology Review 10: 251–296. University of South Alabama OLL. “Cognitive Load Theory”. < > Chipperfield, Brian (2004). “Cognitive load theory and instructional design”. University of Saskatchewan. coursework/802papers/chipperfield/index.htm