Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Cognitive load, working memory and instruction

[double click on image to enlarge]

Yesterday the Eide Neurolearning blog had a nice post on "cognitive load" with many links to a news article, a PPT file, etc. I've been very intrigued with cognitive load theory (viz., "optimum learning occurs in humans when the load on working
memory is kept to a minimum to best facilitate the changes in long term
memory") for years, primarily because it appears to be a potential link from research on cognitive psychology (information processing theory) to instructional practices. More than once I've started blog posts....only to recognize that I needed to read the material deeper.

The ENL post has given me the idea that I should simply post the articles I've accumulated in hopes that readers can read and extract the information they need. Maybe someone will post some nice comments after reading these articles. Or...if someone wants to read them and do a guest blog post, contact me re: this possibility (iap@earthlink.net).

Paas, F., Renkl, A., Sweller, J. (2003). Cognitive load theory and instructional design: Recent developments. Educational Psychologist, 38, 1, 1-4. (click here to view)

Paas, F., Tuovinen, J.E., Tabbers, H., Van Gerven, P.W.M. (2003). Cognitive load measurement as a means to advance cognitive load theory. Educational Psychologist, 38, 1, 63-71. (click here to view)
  • Abstract
  • In this article, we discuss cognitive load measurement techniques with regard to their contribution to cognitive load theory (CLT). CLT is concerned with the design of instructional methods that efficiently use people's limited cognitive processing capacity to apply acquired knowledge and skills to new situations (i.e., transfer). CLT is based on a cognitive architecture that consists of a limited working memory with partly independent processing units for visual and auditory information, which interacts with an unlimited long-term memory. These structures and functions of human cognitive architecture have been used to design a variety of novel efficient instructional methods. The associated research has shown that measures of cognitive load can reveal important information for CLT that is not necessarily reflected by traditional performance-based measures. Particularly, the combination of performance and cognitive load measures has been identified to constitute a reliable estimate of the mental efficiency of instructional methods. The discussion of previously used cognitive load measurement techniques and their role in the advancement of CLT is followed by a discussion of aspects of CLT that may benefit by measurement of cognitive load. Within the cognitive load framework, we also discuss some promising new techniques.
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