PSYC 400 Chapter 3: Cognitive Models of Learning

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29 Dec 2020
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Week 3: Cognitive Models of Learning
A comparison of cognitive load associated with discovery learning and worked examples (Tuovinen
& Sweller, 1999)
Discovery learning: discover concepts and procedures that might otherwise be communicated by
direct instruction
o Pure discovery: almost no structure or guidance, rarely favored
o Guided discovery: some degree of structure to guide learners, more supported
Cognitive load theory: assumes limited WM, effectively unlimited LTM holding large numbers
of schemas that can vary in their degree of automaticity
o Different learners will process material in different ways if already have automated
schemata, cognitive load will be load and WM resources likely free
o Characteristics of instructional material important some can be learned element by
element without relating i.e. vocab, some can’t i.e. math
o Characteristics of learner and material to be learned interact
New material learned effectively/efficiently if unnecessary cognitive load reduced to minimum
Intrinsic load: inherent aspects of mental task that must be understood for learner to be
able to complete task, determined by levels of element interactivity
Extraneous load: associated with how instructional material is taught, adds to intrinsic
Worked examples: require reader to attend to problem states and their associated moves
instead of searching for right moves involved in conventional
problem solving
o Found to effectively reduce extraneous cognitive load and enhance learning
In comparison to exploration, providing students with worked examples assists them in learning
to use a database program
o Advantage only for students with no prior experience, eliminated for those with some
experience in computer databases
o Heavy cognitive load in exploration interfered with new learning can easily decide
what to explore and make decisions if already had related schemata
Cognitive load theory and complex learning: Recent developments and future directions (van
Merrienboer & Sweller, 2005)
No limits to WM when schemata act as central executives, organizing information/knowledge
that needs to be processed
o Constructed schemata may become automated if repeatedly applied
o Well-designed instruction shouldn’t only encourage schema construction but also schema
automation for those aspects of tasks consistent across problems
Intrinsic can’t be altered by instructional interventions since it’s determined by interaction
between nature of materials being learned and expertise of the learner
Extrinsic and intrinsic additive if intrinsic high, extraneous must be lowered and if intrinsic low,
high extraneous due to inadequate instruction might not be harmful since total cognitive load is
within WM limits
Humans alter contents of LTM by learning, acquiring new information in two ways:
o Obtain directly from another human by instruction
o Generation new information through problem solving
If human cognitive architecture includes massive LTM holding uncountable schemata and if WM
must be limited to ensure important information in LTM isn’t corrupted, then aim of instruction
should be to accumulate rapidly systematized, coherent knowledge in LTM
Increasing number of theories view rich, real-life learning tasks as basis for complex learning
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