Phillip load, concerned with the intrinsic complexity of information;

Phillip Bonton, III

Professor L. Margulieux

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Jan. 30th, 2018

LT 8100


Sweller Reflection


allocation of working memory resources to deal with intrinsic cognitive load,
concerned with the intrinsic complexity of information; extraneous cognitive load,
concerned with the manner in which instruction is designed; and germane
cognitive load, concerned with the acquisition of knowledge has been an
important facet of cognitive load theory for some time. The mechanisms
underlying extraneous and germane cognitive load have been specified in a
differential manner for each task to which they are applied but tend not to be
specified in unified theoretical terms and that omission is beginning to result
in some serious misunderstandings and contradictions concerning the relations
between the categories of cognitive load. The following formulation is intended
to address such issues by providing a uniform foundation for the division of
cognitive load into categories.


learning to solve simple algebra equations associated with the above problem is
likely to be easier than learning the chemical symbols of the periodic table
because there are far fewer elements that need to be dealt with, the equation
is much higher in element interactivity and so will impose a much higher
intrinsic cognitive load. The intrinsic cognitive load, in turn, has
instructional implications that differ from the implications that flow from
task difficulty associated with the total number of elements, rather than
element interactivity.


instructional procedures are referred to as imposing an extraneous cognitive
load. Cognitive load theory is primarily concerned with techniques designed to
reduce extraneous cognitive load. Many such techniques have been devised and
continue to be devised. Although intrinsic cognitive load has used element
interactivity as a common determiner of cognitive load irrespective of the
nature of the information being dealt with, there has been little attempt to
identify a similar underlying cause of extraneous cognitive load. As a
consequence, although there is a reasonably clear pattern to the generation of
at least some of the identified cognitive load effects, each effect has tended
to be discussed in isolation from the other effects that have been identified. Each
effect has been generated by and explained using cognitive load theory, but
little attempt has been made to suggest that the various effects caused by an
extraneous cognitive load might have a common underlying cause.


Cognitive Load and Element Interactivity Germane cognitive load also can be
specified in terms of element interactivity, but the status of germane
cognitive load differs from intrinsic and extraneous cognitive load. Intrinsic
and extraneous cognitive load are determined by a combination of material and
learner characteristics, but the emphasis is heavily on the characteristics of
the material, in that working memory load will be determined entirely by levels
of element interactivity. In contrast to the emphasis by intrinsic and
extraneous cognitive load on the characteristics of the material, germane
cognitive load is concerned only with learner characteristics. Except through
its relation to the material via the interacting elements of intrinsic
cognitive load, germane cognitive load is independent of the information


memory resources that deal with intrinsic cognitive load are germane to the
task at hand and so are referred to as germane cognitive load. Working memory
resources that deal with extraneous cognitive load are extraneous to the task
at hand but must be dealt with if the instructional procedures demand those
resources. We know from countless experiments that we can detect changes in
total cognitive load when intrinsic, extraneous, or germane cognitive load
change. If germane load can compensate for extraneous load, why does total load
change? It should remain constant but does not. Overall cognitive load is
determined solely by an addition of intrinsic and extraneous cognitive load. If
either changes but the other remains constant, total cognitive load changes.


            We can have
complementarity between germane and extraneous cognitive load while total
cognitive load varies. Determining Cognitive Load The three categories of
cognitive load were introduced initially to explain otherwise inexplicable
experimental results.


extraneous cognitive load effects discussed below are obtainable using
information that has a high intrinsic cognitive load but are reduced or
eliminated when dealing with information that is low in intrinsic cognitive
load. This result is explained by assuming that if intrinsic cognitive load is
low, sufficient working memory resources are available to deal with a higher
extraneous cognitive load and so no extraneous cognitive load effects can be


knowing the subject area or instructional design principles, the learner is not
in a position to distinguish between those interacting elements due to
extraneous or intrinsic cognitive load. Accordingly, attempts to independently
distinguish between intrinsic and extraneous cognitive load using psychometric
measures are likely to fail. The effects of these two categories of cognitive
load can be independently predicted by analyzing element interactivity for both
categories prior to running an instructional experiment in which one of either
intrinsic or extraneous cognitive load is kept constant while the other is


            Working memory resources are used to
deal with certain types of loads and the type of information that is processed.
In this reflection, it is clear to see that cognitive theory only applies when
the conditions are here and the effects is done by interacting with
communicating with as he calls it “high intrinsic cognized load.”