Strategies to reduce extraneous cognitive load

Extraneous cognitive load is due to how the content is presented through instructional materials. It does not result from the to-be-learnt content.

By redesigning instructional materials to reduce extraneous cognitive load mental resources are released and become available to be allocated to germane activities promoting learning. As a result, learning increases.

Each of the extraneous cognitive load effects is based upon a feature of the processes, limitations and dynamics of human cognitive architecture. The underling feature for each effect is presented below.

Identify and implement segmentation of information

The segmentation effect involves identifying logical segments within the information and enabling learners to progress to a following segment at their own pace. 

Expand working memory capacity

The modality effect uses coordinated visual and audio information sources in a manner that exploits the separate visual working memory and audio working memory processors, thus increasing total working memory capacity.

External memory aids provide perpetually available reference material that acts as a memory aid, especially for supporting procedural sequences, thus relieving working memory load.

Collect and present necessary information in a cohesive cognitive form

Split attention effect: ensure mutually referring instructional materials are clearly identified as related, thus removing the cognitive task of search and association.

Redundancy effect; ensure removal of all redundant information, thus removing the cognitive task of processing unnecessary content.

Avoid the use of means-ends analysis for problem solving

Worked example effect; use worked examples rather than problem solving to demonstrate forward working solutions.

Goal free effect: use goal-free problems rather than goal specific problems to promote forward working solutions.

Next: Segmentation Effect