University of Tasmania

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Self-management of cognitive load in accounting within a Zimbabwean University context

posted on 2023-05-26, 14:57 authored by Seedwell SitholeSeedwell Sithole

Students frequently struggle with poor instructional design. A common example of poor design is where students are required to split their attention between several sources of information found in textbooks and other documents. Learners need to mentally integrate two or more distinct items of information, and this places unnecessary demands on cognitive load. Cognitive load theory assumes that the task of mental integration increases the load on already limited working memory, and it does so to such an extent that learning may be severely impeded. This thesis investigates how students could deal with cognitive overload when learning introductory accounting using three instructional design formats, the split-attention format, the integrated format, and the self-managed format. Two experiments investigated whether students who learned under the self-managed load format would outperform students in both the conventional split-attention format group and an instructor-managed integrated format group. In the two experiments, participants were randomly assigned to the three conditions.

The results of Experiment 1 established the presence of the split-attention effect as both the self-management and integrated groups obtained higher test scores and reported lower levels of cognitive load than the split-attention group. Experiment 2 also tests whether students in self-managed learning environments transfer learning skills gained from Experiment 1 to new learning environments in Experiment 2. A strong transfer effect for self-managed instructions was reported.







University of Wollongong

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