Applying cognitive load theory to the design of online learning.

Applying cognitive load theory to the design of online learning.

Date: May 2007
Creator: Burkes, Kate M. Erland
Description: The purpose of the study was to investigate the application of cognitive load theory to the design of online instruction. Students in three different courses (N = 146) were measured on both learning performance and perceptions of mental effort to see if there were any statistically significant differences. The study utilized a quasi-experimental posttest-only control group design contrasting modified and unmodified instructional lessons. Both groups were given a posttest to measure knowledge gained from the lesson (cognitive domain of learning) and perceptions of mental effort involved. Independent samples t-tests were used to compare the mean performance scores of the treatment groups (i.e. the sections using redesigned materials) versus the control groups for all three courses. Cohen's d was also computed to determine effect size. Mental effort scores were similarly compared for each group on the overall cognitive load score, for a total of six data points in the study. Of the four hypotheses examined, three (H1, H2, H4) found no statistically significant difference between the experimental and control groups. Negative significance was found between the experimental and control group on the effect of modality (H3). On measures of cognitive load, no statistically significant differences were found.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries