Cognitive load

Effort being used in the working memory / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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In cognitive psychology, cognitive load refers to the amount of working memory resources used. However, it is essential to distinguish it from the actual construct of Cognitive Load (CL) or Mental Workload (MWL), which is studied widely in many disciplines. According to work conducted in the field of instructional design and pedagogy, broadly, there are three types of cognitive load: intrinsic cognitive load is the effort associated with a specific topic; extraneous cognitive load refers to the way information or tasks are presented to a learner; and germane cognitive load refers to the work put into creating a permanent store of knowledge (a schema). However, over the years, the additivity of these types of cognitive load has been investigated and questioned. Now it is believed that they circularly influence each other.[1]

Cognitive load theory was developed in the late 1980s out of a study of problem solving by John Sweller.[2] Sweller argued that instructional design can be used to reduce cognitive load in learners. Much later, other researchers developed a way to measure perceived mental effort which is indicative of cognitive load.[3][4] Task-invoked pupillary response is a reliable and sensitive measurement of cognitive load that is directly related to working memory.[5] Information may only be stored in long term memory after first being attended to, and processed by, working memory.[citation needed] Working memory, however, is extremely limited in both capacity and duration.[citation needed] These limitations will, under some conditions, impede learning.[citation needed] Heavy cognitive load can have negative effects on task completion, and it is important to note that the experience of cognitive load is not the same in everyone.[citation needed] The elderly, students, and children experience different, and more often higher, amounts of cognitive load.[citation needed]

The fundamental tenet of cognitive load theory is that the quality of instructional design will be raised if greater consideration is given to the role and limitations of working memory. With increased distractions, particularly from cell phone use, students are more prone to experiencing high cognitive load which can reduce academic success.[6]