Impact of reducing intrinsic cognitive load on learning in a mathematical domain
Version of Record online: 12 APR 2006
Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.
Applied Cognitive Psychology
Special Issue: Themed Issue: Emerging Topics in Cognitive Load Research: Using Learner and Information Characteristics in the Design of Powerful Learning Environments
Volume 20, Issue 3, pages 287–298, April 2006
How to Cite
Ayres, P. (2006), Impact of reducing intrinsic cognitive load on learning in a mathematical domain. Appl. Cognit. Psychol., 20: 287–298. doi: 10.1002/acp.1245
- Issue online: 12 APR 2006
- Version of Record online: 12 APR 2006
- Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of New South Wales, Sydney Australia
This paper examines the effectiveness of instructional strategies that lower cognitive load by reducing task complexity (intrinsic cognitive load). Three groups of 13-year-old students were required to learn a mathematical task under different conditions. One group (Isolated) followed a strategy that used part-tasks where the constituent elements were isolated from each other (element isolation). A second group (Integrated) received whole tasks where all elements were fully integrated, and a third group (Mixed) followed a mixed strategy progressing from part-tasks to whole-tasks. Results indicated that the part-task strategy was effective in lowering cognitive load for all students, but only benefitted learning for students with low prior knowledge. In contrast, students with a higher prior knowledge learned significantly more having studied whole tasks during instruction compared with part-tasks. The mixed-mode method proved to be ineffective for both levels of prior knowledge. These results are discussed in terms of cognitive load theory. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.