Small changes for big results



This case study describes an introductory programming course where a very limited time-frame for re-development resulted in only small 'tweaks' being made to the presentation of content. These changes were in keeping with Cognitive Load Theory, with the express purpose to reduce the extraneous load and increase germane load on working memory.

The assessments (quizzes, programming assignments and exam) from the previous year - before the redevelopment - were re-used to determine the effects of the redevelopment. The improvements were substantial. 

Participation (as shown by completion of assessments) dramatically improved, as shown on the below graph:

Even though many of the students who normally would not have participated then handed in assignments, the mean marks for the assessments improved.

The result was a 19% reduction in the failure rate for this course.