Modality and variability as factors in training the elderly

Authors

  • Pascal W. M. van Gerven,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Neurocognition, Faculty of Psychology, Maastricht University, The Netherlands
    • Department of Neurocognition, Faculty of Psychology, Maastricht University, P.O. Box 616, 6200 MD Maastricht, The Netherlands.
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  • Fred Paas,

    1. Educational Technology Expertise Center (OTEC), Open University of The Netherlands, The Netherlands
    2. Institute of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands
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  • Jeroen J. G. van Merriënboer,

    1. Educational Technology Expertise Center (OTEC), Open University of The Netherlands, The Netherlands
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  • Henk G. Schmidt

    1. Institute of Psychology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands
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Abstract

Cognitive load theory (CLT) predicts that bimodal processing of instructional material decreases the level of extraneous cognitive load, whereas increased training variability increases the level of germane cognitive load. It was hypothesized that a combination of these strategies leads to optimal learning, especially in older adults. Forty young and forty elderly learners were trained to solve complex problems. The results showed that bimodal training leads to lower cognitive load than unimodal training. Furthermore, random presentation of examples (high variability) led to higher performance than blocked presentation (low variability) in both age groups. However, there was no combined effect of modality and variability. Moreover, the elderly did not take disproportionate advantage of the bimodal and random conditions. It was concluded that these training methods bear important potential in the light of lifelong learning. Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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