Tag Archives: Cognitive load

Effectiveness: App design imposing additional cognitive load

Title Effectiveness–App design imposing additional cognitive load
App Name Barron’s Painless Reading Comprehension Challenge
App Maker Barron’s Educational Series Inc., Mobile

Darolyn Jones for Barron’s Educational Series, http://barronseduc.stores.yahoo.net/info.html

Screenshot *
General Description of the App’s Intended Purpose and Audience This didactic app provides three lessons and four sets of quiz questions regarding particular aspects of reading comprehension (e.g., inferring an unfamiliar word’s meaning from context, with particular attention to appositives). The quizzes complement the 2nd edition of Darolyn Jones’s book, Painless Reading Comprehension. Jones’s nine-chapter book covers topics such as “reading for information versus reading for fun,” “reading context clues,” and “mastering multiple-choice questions.” The quizzes in the app are traditional MC format. They provide opportunities to practice a reading strategy or skill that has just been explained in a didactic expository passage.
Screenshot context This page provides an example of a MC question. The user can click on the button labeled “click to read material” to access a screen explaining what “flag words” are and providing an illustrative paragraph that uses several “flag words” or phrases such as “it should be noted that….”
Explanation and/or commentary The design of this app imposes a relatively high level of extraneous cognitive load on the user’s limited working memory (Sweller, 1994). To answer the question about the phrase “it should be noted,” for example, the user has to devote scarce working memory space to remembering the passage on the preceding screen where the phrase was used as well as the meaning of “flag words” (which he/she has presumably just learned). The user can of course jump back and forth between screens as many times as he/she wants in order to re-read text on either page. Still, a considerable body of research from the perspective of Cognitive Load Theory (CLT) and Multimedia Learning Theory (MLT) (Moreno & Mayer, 1999) suggests that this kind of back-and-forth movement does little to improve comprehension or retention of new concepts and/or information. A better design would have been to juxtapose the MC question and the illustrative paragraph on the same screen. CLT and MLT studies have shown that increasing spatial contiguity of related information improves learning (for a summary, see Mayer, 2008).