Effects of using a peer support system to optimise knowledge sharing in learning networks: a cognitive load perspective

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In a non-formal learning network, knowledge sharing is often desirable when working on complex tasks. However, without support, learners need to first find a tutor and then maintain social interaction, which, according to cognitive load theory, may hamper learning. After all, the extraneous load imposed by these two activities and the intrinsic load imposed by the task itself might easily overload learners' cognitive capacity. We compared the effects of using a peer support system with an automatic tutor assignment and an interaction tool (wiki) to a forum and control group (without any support) on learners' cognitive load and learning efficiency for simple and complex tasks. The results did not significantly show that this peer support system was instrumental in reducing cognitive load and improving learning efficiency. However, the study did shed an illuminating light on how to apply instructional guidelines of cognitive load theory to non-formal learning networks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)372-385
JournalInternational Journal of Continuing Engineering Education and Life-Long Learning
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016



  • Guided Self-Organization in Learning Networks
  • knowledge sharing
  • peer tutoring
  • peer support system
  • PSS
  • cognitive load
  • learning networks

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