The Wary Student, Part 4: Method

Cognitive load is composed of the the “the number and nature of component skills involved.. and the complexity of the goal hierarchy” (Paas & van Merrienboer, 1994, 355). This load can be subdivided into the intrinsic, germane, and extrinsic (Sweller, van Merrienboer, & Paas, 1998), or the essential, the incidental, and the representational (Mayer & Moreno, 2003). While other studies have examined cognitive load by reducing its extrinsic component (Bannert, 2002) or altering its intrinsic component (Gerjets, Scheiter, & Catrabone, 2004), this research will examine the effects of raising cognitive load.

The experiment varied extrinsic/incidental cognitive load in three ways: visually, audibly, and internally. When instructions for a task are complex, physical visual integration of the material is important to reduce cognitive load (Chandler & Sweller, 1991), so information is physically separated where possible in the high cognitive load condition. Likewise, cognitive load is increased when music is combined with instructions on an audible channel (Moreno & Mayer, 2000), so overlapping sound channels were used to increase bad audible cognitive load. Additionally, internal cognitive load can be overloaded by presenting redundant information on visual and auditory channels. These aspects of cognitive load are the the split-attention effect (where information is physically separated on a page) and redundancy effect (where information is repeated in different media) (Kalyuga, Chandler, & Sweller, 2000). The effect of this load on different forms of cooperation – positive, neutral, and negative – will be the studied in an experiment.


The Wary Student, a tdaxp research project
1. Abstract
2. Cognitive Load
3. Cooperative Behavior
4. Method
5. The Experiments
6. Hypotheses
7. Main-Effect Results
8. Interaction-Effect Results
9. Discussion
10. Future Research
11. Bibliography