Designing instructional examples to reduce intrinsic cognitive load: Molar versus modular presentation of solution procedures. Gerjets, P., Scheiter, K., & Catrambone, R. Instructional Science, 32(1/2):33–58, January, 2004.
doi  abstract   bibtex   
It is usually assumed that successful problem solving in knowledge-rich domains depends on the availability of abstract problem-type schemas whose acquisition can be supported by presenting students with worked examples. Conventionally designed worked examples often focus on information that is related to the main components of problem- type schemas, namely on information related to problem-category membership, structural task features, and category-specific solution procedures. However, studying these examples might be cognitively demanding because it requires learners to simultaneously hold active a substantial amount of information in working memory. In our research, we try to reduce intrinsic cognitive load in example-based learning by shifting the level of presenting and explaining solution procedures from a ‘molar' view – that focuses on problem categories and their associated overall solution procedures – to a more ‘modular' view where complex solutions are broken down into smaller meaningful solution elements that can be conveyed separately. We review findings from five of our own studies that yield evidence for the fact that processing modular examples is associated with a lower degree of intrinsic cognitive load and thus, improves learning.
@article{gerjets_designing_2004,
	title = {Designing instructional examples to reduce intrinsic cognitive load: {Molar} versus modular presentation of solution procedures},
	volume = {32},
	issn = {0020-4277},
	doi = {10.1023/B:TRUC.0000021809.10236.71},
	abstract = {It is usually assumed that successful problem solving in knowledge-rich domains depends on the availability of abstract problem-type schemas whose acquisition can be supported by presenting students with worked examples. Conventionally designed worked examples often focus on information that is related to the main components of problem- type schemas, namely on information related to problem-category membership, structural task features, and category-specific solution procedures. However, studying these examples might be cognitively demanding because it requires learners to simultaneously hold active a substantial amount of information in working memory. In our research, we try to reduce intrinsic cognitive load in example-based learning by shifting the level of presenting and explaining solution procedures from a ‘molar' view – that focuses on problem categories and their associated overall solution procedures – to a more ‘modular' view where complex solutions are broken down into smaller meaningful solution elements that can be conveyed separately. We review findings from five of our own studies that yield evidence for the fact that processing modular examples is associated with a lower degree of intrinsic cognitive load and thus, improves learning.},
	language = {en},
	number = {1/2},
	journal = {Instructional Science},
	author = {Gerjets, Peter and Scheiter, Katharina and Catrambone, Richard},
	month = jan,
	year = {2004},
	keywords = {cognitive load, cognitive skill acquisition, example design, schema acquisition, worked examples},
	pages = {33--58}
}
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