Learning about Instructional Design Cognitive Load Theory

My evening has been spent catching up on my Instructional Design course. This evening I learned about cognitive load theory. It was a bit challenging in that the assigned reading was a cognitive overload. I had a difficult time with this 30 page paper, but through some research and then listening to discussions by my classmates I got a slight grasp on it. So what I learned is we have a working memory and to learn you can’t overload that working memory.  It seems that we have a limit to what we can remember and absorb when learning. When designing a course the three things you have to consider in cognitive theory are: intrinsic cognitive load or the difficulty or level of complexity to what is being presented for instance we can add simple numbers in our heads, but if the numbers are large we probably will need some instance like taking steps and writing things down. Then there is extraneous cognitive load that is under the control of the instructor because it is the way the information is presented to the learner. So when you are presenting information to students especially if it is complex you will want to reduce the extraneous load by presenting the information as simply and thoroughly as possible using pictures or diagrams to simplify the content. Then lastly there is germane cognitive load the learning process. Through the germane cognitive load a student can construct a schema or memory (LTM). So apparently constructivism  theory does not take into account cognitive load. I would imagine that this point of view came about due to the extraneous cognitive load that can be added by having a student construct their own learning. So that is basically what I learned about for consideration in instructional design. It is not going to stop me from using inquiry a constructivist approach, but I will consider these points in my instructional planning so as not to overload my students. Nothing worse than seeing a student overloading and shutting down during a lesson.


About jdoster17

I am a teacher in bush Alaska. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Limnology and a Master’s Degree in Biology from the University of Central Florida (UCF). My Master’s Thesis was Analysis of Reproductive and Spatial Nesting Patterns of a Wading Bird Colony at Gatorland, Orange County, Florida. This research was an integrated approach including reproductive ecology, ornithology, landscape ecology, wetland ecology, and statistics. I also attended the University of Memphis and earned 12 credits towards a Ph.D. in Biology. I will graduate from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in May, 2012 with a Masters in Education. I received my three year teaching certificate for the state of Alaska in October 2005 and my five year Professional certificate for the school year 2008/2009. I am highly qualified in accordance with NCLB to teach biology, chemistry and art through college credits and degrees. I have completed and passed PRAXIS II for Earth Science and Physical Science. At present I am highly qualified to teach art, biology, chemistry, earth science, life science, and physical science.
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