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Reconsidering Cognitive Load in Web based Instruction

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This study proposes a new instrument to measure cognitive load types related to user interface and demonstrates theoretical assumptions about different load types. In reconsidering established cognitive load theory, the inadequacies of the theory are criticized in terms of the adaption of learning efficiency score and distinction of cognitive load types. Since measurement of mental effort does not cover all types of cognitive load, a new way of isolating different loads is required. Previous studies have focused on designing interface to reduce extraneous cognitive load. However, interface may have the potential to enhance germane cognitive load because learners may construct their knowledge schemata with interface layouts.

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Reconsidering Cognitive Load in Web based Instruction

  1. 1. Reconsidering Cognitive Load:  Examining the different types & measuring them if we can<br />Cognitive Psychology Seminar<br />The University of Memphis<br />Dr. Michael M. Grant<br />University of Memphis<br />Dr. Jongpil Cheon<br />Texas Tech University<br />March 31, 2010<br />Michael M. Grant 2010<br />
  2. 2. Learning with WBI<br />WBI<br />Learning Content<br />Pedagogical <br />Plans<br />Isolation<br />Interface<br />Learner<br />
  3. 3. Cognitive Load Theory<br />Basic assumptions – limited working memory<br />Extraneous cognitive load<br />an irrelevant cognitive resource caused by the layout, navigation, structure or medium of instruction. <br />an inherent cognitive resource caused by the complexity of learning content. <br />Intrinsic cognitive load<br />a relevant cognitive resource caused by learners' investment on schema construction and automation. <br />Germane cognitive load<br />All are additive<br />
  4. 4. Applications of Cognitive Load Theory<br />Extraneous cognitive load<br />Traditional CLT research : reducing extraneous load<br />New application approaches<br />Controlling the complexity of learning contents<br />Adaptive instruction with learners’ content expertise<br />Fostering germane cognitive load<br />Intrinsic cognitive load<br />Germane cognitive load<br />Schema construction & automation<br />
  5. 5. Cognitive Load Theory Research<br />Learning efficiency score = performance score & mental effort<br />(E = efficiency, P = performance, ME = mental effort)<br />(P and ME values were standardized into z scores)<br />
  6. 6. Limitations<br />No measurement to isolate each cognitive load type<br />Extraneous cognitive load<br />Intrinsic cognitive load<br />Germane cognitive load<br />Positive<br />Negative<br />Learning efficiency concept<br />Why lower mental effort is preferred?<br />Mental effort measurement<br />“Please indicate how difficult the instruction/test you just took was by clicking on the appropriate degree of difficulty”<br />
  7. 7. Three layers of the interaction between WBI and a learner<br />WBI<br />Learning Content<br />Pedagogical <br />Plans<br />Connection<br />Interface<br />Learner<br />
  8. 8. New Way to Measure Cognitive Load<br />Extraneous cognitive load<br />Usability<br />Intrinsic cognitive load<br />Difficulty of instruction<br />Germane cognitive load<br />Schema construction and automation<br />It may strengthen the theoretical foundation of cognitive load theory.<br />
  9. 9. Measuring Intrinsic Cognitive Load<br />Prior knowledge<br />Score from pretest<br />
  10. 10. Measuring Extraneous Cognitive Load<br />Usability level<br />The menu in the instruction is easy to navigate.<br />I can identify easily where I am and where I should go. <br />The amount of information on each page was appropriate to understand.<br />The information layout and locations are consistent throughout the instruction.<br />Graphics or other elements on the pages are not distracting.<br />
  11. 11. Measuring Germane Cognitive Load<br />Engagement level (Schema construction and automation)<br />The interface contributed to my understanding of (learning content).<br />The interface helped me to mentally organize the structure of (learning content).<br />As I progressed throughout the unit, the interface helped me to relate later concepts to earlier concepts. <br />While proceeding throughout the unit, the interface helped me to remember the structure of (learning content).<br />When I think about what I just learned, I remember the content in terms of the interface’s layout. <br />Pilot study with 52 undergraduate students<br />- Reliability score = .944 <br />
  12. 12. Methodology<br />Participants: 40 (43 originally) undergraduates in the Journalism department<br />Instructional Units: Introduction to Public Relations<br />Data Collection: (a) pretest score (20 items)<br /> (b) posttest score (same 20 items)<br /> (c) engagement level of the instruction<br /> (d) usability level of the interface<br />Data Collection Procedure: Phase 1 - Pretest<br /> Phase 2 – instruction <br /> Posttest <br /> Survey on engagement & usability <br />
  13. 13. Results<br />Reliability test of responses to engagement items & usability items<br />Engagement: Cronbach’s Alpha = .914<br />Usability: Cronbach’s Alpha = .767<br />All items acceptable<br />
  14. 14. Results<br />Learning Performance<br />Significant difference <br />(t= - 12.388, p < .001)<br />
  15. 15. Results<br />Extraneous cognitive load<br />Usability score inverted<br />M = 4.21 —> M = 1.79<br />Intrinsic cognitive load<br />Pretest score invertedM = 10.18 —> M = 9.83<br />Germane cognitive load<br />Engagement level <br />M = 4.02<br />
  16. 16. Results<br />Correlations<br />Intrinsic cognitive load<br />p = .539<br />r = .100<br />p = .294<br />r = -.170<br />Extraneous cognitive load<br />Germane cognitive load<br />p < .001<br />r = -.567<br />
  17. 17. Results<br />Multiple Regression<br />Intrinsic cognitive load<br />Β = .279<br />Β = .686<br />Learning<br />performance<br />Germane cognitive load<br />63.4% explained<br />Β = .024<br />Extraneous cognitive load<br />
  18. 18. Discussion<br />Lower extraneous tends toward higher germane<br />Prior knowledge was not related to extraneous or germane<br />Germane was the most significant predictor of performance<br />Indirect impact on performance by extraneous<br />Advancement of cognitive load theory<br />Using an interface to promote germane engagement has potential<br />Extraneous and usability are puzzling<br />Practice of instructional design<br />
  19. 19. Discussion<br />Limitations & Future Research<br />Small sample size<br />Self-report<br />Pretest score represents all prior knowledge<br />Specific to Web-based instruction<br />Difficult level could be combined to help measure intrinsic load<br />Moving toward more sophisticated analysis<br />
  20. 20. Michael M. Grant 2010<br />

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