Cognitive Load During Problem Solving: Effects on Learning


School of Education, University of New South Wales, P.O. Box 1. Kensington, NSW 2033, Australia


Considerable evidence indicates that domain specific knowledge in the form of schemas is the primary factor distinguishing experts from novices in problem-solving skill. Evidence that conventional problem-solving activity is not effective in schema acquisition is also accumulating. It is suggested that a major reason for the ineffectiveness of problem solving as a learning device, is that the cognitive processes required by the two activities overlap insufficiently, and that conventional problem solving in the form of means-ends analysis requires a relatively large amount of cognitive processing capacity which is consequently unavailable for schema acquisition. A computational model and experimental evidence provide support for this contention. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.