Designing Instructional Examples to Reduce Intrinsic Cognitive Load: Molar versus Modular Presentation of Solution Procedures

Abstract : It is usually assumed that successful problem solving in knowledge-rich domains depends on the availability of abstract problem-type schemas whose acquisition can be supported by presenting students with worked examples. Conventionally designed worked examples often focus on information that is related to the main components of problem-type schemas, namely on information related to problem-category membership, structural task features, and category-specific solution procedures. However, studying these examples might be cognitively demanding because it requires learners to simultaneously hold active a substantial amount of information in working memory. In our research, we try to reduce intrinsic cognitive load in example-based learning by shifting the level of presenting and explaining solution procedures from a `molar' view – that focuses on problem categories and their associated overall solution procedures – to a more `modular' view where complex solutions are broken down into smaller meaningful solution elements that can be conveyed separately. We review findings from five of our own studies that yield evidence for the fact that processing modular examples is associated with a lower degree of intrinsic cognitive load and thus, improves learning. (http://www.springerlink.com/content/jl14q60710wn5088/)
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Peter Gerjets, Katharina Scheiter, Richard Catrambone. Designing Instructional Examples to Reduce Intrinsic Cognitive Load: Molar versus Modular Presentation of Solution Procedures. Instructional Science, Springer Verlag, 2004, 32 (1-2), pp.33-58. ⟨10.1023/B:TRUC.0000021809.10236.71⟩. ⟨hal-00197417⟩

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