Article Summary

Taking the Load Off a Learner’s Mind: Instructional Design for Complex Learning

Complex learning seeks to integrate the knowledge, skills, and attitudes; coordination of qualitatively varied skills; as well as the transfer of the topics in daily learning or in work setups. Instructional theories that have channeled their attention authentic learning tasks that concentrate on real-life task as the main mover for learning. These tasks are assumed to assist the learners incorporate knowledge, skills and attitudes necessary to carry out performance, and provide them with a platform to learn how to mash up different tasks necessary to achieve a complex task. The educational approaches that incorporate these whole tasks include project-based education, the case method, problem-based learning, competency-based learning, and theoretical models. 

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The purpose of this article was to discuss means of managing cognitive load in a situation where rich learning tasks are used in education. The methods discussed include the scaffolding whole-task practice including simple-to-complex, sequencing of learning tasks, and use of alternative tasks; and just-in-time information such as timely presentation of information to support practice and direct step-by-step presentation of procedural information. 

The article sought to develop an instructional design model to assist in complex learning fully that is in line with cognitive load theory. The model is based of the assumption that a perfectly-instituted learning environment for complex learning is made up of four components; learning tasks, supportive information, procedural information, and part-task practice. The article reached a conclusion that that cognitive load theory (CLT) provided important guidelines for reducing inherent and extraneous cognitive load. This provides enough processing capacity to accommodate genuine learning. One limitation of the framework described in the article is on the weight it gives to reducing the intrinsic and extraneous load. 

ReferenceVan Merriënboer, J. J., Kirschner, P. A., & Kester, L. (2003). Taking the load off a learner’s mind: Instructional design for complex learning. Educational psychologist38(1), 5-13.

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