Measuring cognitive load in introductory CS: Adaptation of an instrument

Briana B. Morrison, Brian Dorn, Mark Guzdial

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

88 Scopus citations

Abstract

A student's capacity to learn a concept is directly related to how much cognitive load is used to comprehend the material. The central problem identified by Cognitive Load Theory is that learning is impaired when the total amount of processing requirements exceeds the limited capacity of working memory. Instruction can impose three different types of cognitive load on a student's working memory: intrinsic load, extraneous load, and germane load. Since working memory is a fixed size, instructional material should be designed to minimize the extraneous and intrinsic loads in order to increase the amount of memory available for the germane load. This will improve learning. To effectively design instruction to minimize cognitive load we must be able to measure the specific load components for any pedagogical intervention. This paper reports on a study that adapts a previously developed instrument to measure cognitive load. We report on the adaptation of the instrument to a new discipline, introductory computer science, and the results of measuring the cognitive load factors of specific lectures. We discuss the implications for the ability to measure specific cognitive load components and use of the tool in future studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationICER 2014 - Proceedings of the 10th Annual International Conference on International Computing Education Research
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Pages131-138
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9781450327558
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes
Event10th Annual International Conference on International Computing Education Research, ICER 2014 - Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: Aug 11 2014Aug 13 2014

Publication series

NameICER 2014 - Proceedings of the 10th Annual International Conference on International Computing Education Research

Other

Other10th Annual International Conference on International Computing Education Research, ICER 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityGlasgow
Period8/11/148/13/14

Keywords

  • Cognitive load theory
  • Conffermatory factor analysis
  • Measuring cognitive load
  • Survey

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Education

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