Fredrick D. Pociask, Rosanne DiZazzo-Miller, Preethy S. Samuel; Reducing Cognitive Load While Teaching Complex Instruction to Occupational Therapy Students. Am J Occup Ther 2013;67(5):e92-e99. doi: 10.5014/ajot.2013.008078.
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© 2019 American Occupational Therapy Association
Cognitive load theory is a field of research used to improve the learning of complex cognitive tasks by matching instruction to the learner’s cognitive architecture. We used an experimental posttest control-group design to test the effectiveness of instruction designed to reduce cognitive load (CL) and improve instructional effectiveness in teaching complex instruction to 24 first-year master’s students under authentic classroom conditions. We modified historically taught instruction using an isolated-to-interacting-elements sequencing approach intended to reduce high CL levels. We compared control and modified instructional formats using written assessment scores, subjective ratings of CL, and task completion times. Analysis of variance revealed significant differences for postinstruction, posttest CL ratings, and delayed written posttest scores (p < .05). No significant differences were identified for posttest completion times. Findings suggest that this approach can be used to improve instructional efficiency in teaching human locomotion to occupational therapy students.
The degree to which learning of complex instruction is effective will, in part, be dependent on the extent to which instruction and instructional processes take into consideration the unwavering characteristics of human cognition and will be particularly true in the context of teaching new information to novice learners in academic or clinical environments.
This study emphasized the importance of bringing a concentrated effort to the instructional design and teaching of complex knowledge in the occupational therapy curriculum to improve instructional effectiveness while recognizing the importance of including gait analysis in the occupational therapy curriculum.
This study helps extend CLT and instructional design practices to occupational therapy pedagogy.
Finally, findings from this study may assist occupational therapy and clinical educators with alternative instructional methods for teaching human locomotion and provide insight for teaching complex knowledge and processes in other areas of academic and clinical practice.
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