Cognitive load theory

Paul A. Kirschner, Femke Kirschner, Fred Paas

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingEntry for encyclopedia/dictionaryAcademic

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    Cognitive load theory (CLT) can provide guidelines to assist in the presentation of information in a manner that encourages learner activities that optimize intellectual performance. Central to CLT is the notion that human cognitive architecture should be a major consideration when designing instruction. This cognitive architecture consists of a limited working memory (WM), which interacts with a comparatively unlimited long-term memory (LTM). The limited WM carries the risk of learners being cognitively overloaded when performing a high complexity task. According to the theory, the limitations of working memory can be circumvented by coding multiple elements of information as one element in cognitive schemata, by automating rules, and by using more than one presentation modality.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationPsychology of classroom learning
    Subtitle of host publicationAn encyclopedia
    EditorsE.M. Anderman, L.H. Anderman
    Place of PublicationDetroit
    PublisherMacmillan Reference
    Volume1 (a-j)
    Publication statusPublished - 2009


    • Cognitive load theory
    • short term memory
    • Cognitive architecture
    • Task complexity, Learning


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