Cognitive Load Theory - " Is it just a Load?

Gary Woodill, Emerging Technologies Analyst, Aug 06, 2010
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Gary Woodill agrees with me on cognitive load theory and supports his case with an argument. "We need to examine our concepts carefully and critically, and move away from research into nonsense as the basis of our instructional designs." Quite so. Will Thalheimer responds in a comment, defending the theory with examples. "Try counting backward by 3's and doing multiplication problems at the same time." OK, that's hard. "Try writing while listening to music with lyrics." Wait, I do that all the time (including this exact moment). "Try talking with your spouse while on the phone with your boss." Done and done. "Try talking on your cell phone, driving your car in traffic, and listening to Lady Gaga lyrics for deep meaning." Oh, well, that's just impossible, but only because the third conjunct is impossible. In any case, the response misses the point. Are there limits to cognition and perception? Well, d'uh. Of course there are. Do these limits support 'cognitive load theory' as it pertains to education? No. Clark Quinn also supports it in a comment at the other site, saying, "simplify cognitive load to the right amount, and you get increased performance" and cites Sweller. Yes, you get increased 'performance' - but worse learning. Yes, people are more likely to remember and to do what you say if you tell them 'go east on route 33 then north on 17' but they are more likely to learn if you give them a map.
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