Tip #257: Three More Cognitive Load Theory Effects

According to Cognitive Load Theory and the Role of Learner Experience: An Abbreviated Review for Educational Practitioners (2008), by Anthony R. Artino, Jr., there are six cognitive load theory effects that reduce extraneous cognitive load. The first three that we discussed last week relate to problem solving: (1) goal-free effect, (2) worked example effect, and (3) completion problem effect.

The remaining three are as follows:

4. Split Attention Effect means to replace multiple sources of information (i.e., separate pictures and text) with a single, integrated source of information. This reduces extraneous load because there is no need to mentally integrate the information sources.

5. Modality Effect means to replace a written explanatory text and another source of visual information (e.g. a diagram) with a spoken explanatory text and a visual source of information (i.e., use multiple modalities). This reduces extraneous load because multimodal presentation uses both the visual and auditory processors of working memory.

Helpful background information: One characteristic of working memory is that its capacity is distributed over two, partially independent processors. This dual-processing assumption is based on theories that suggest there are two separate channels for processing visual and auditory information. The implication of this dual-processing model is that limited working memory capacity can be effectively expanded by using both visual and auditory channels rather than either processing channel alone.

6. Redundancy Effect means to replace multiple sources of information that are self-contained (i.e., they can be understood on their own) with one source of information. This reduces extraneous load caused by unnecessary processing of redundant information.

Next week, we will look at how cognitive load theory can affect the use of multimedia in instructional design.


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This week, we will look at how cognitive load theory can affect the use of multimedia in instructional design.

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