Monday, April 02, 2012

Using Brain Science to Improve Your ELearning

As I've developed my instructional design model for deaf adult learners, I've turned to brain science to understand how I should best present content. My study has centered on Cognitive Load Theory, and what implications that has for deaf folks. Of course, it isn't as simple as checking out studies on cognitive load and deaf learners. Studies that answer my questions don't seem to exist. But I have been able to find studies that I think apply. Here's a summary of my findings. 

1.     Pretraining – understanding the names of things and how components work first – reduces cognitive load.
2.     Mental Models have two parts: First A representation of how parts work, and second, causal, how the parts affect one another.
3.     Novice learners need content signals. This means they need to be signaled when there is something they need to learn appearing on the screen.
4.     Novice learners need content weeded. This means there should be no extraneous information presented to reduce cognitive load.
5.     Novice learners need video to be segmented.  They need the time between videos to move content from working memory to long-term memory.
6.     Text on screen and voiced text at the same time increase cognitive load. Obviously deaf people don't hear text. But information conveyed in sign language, the deaf person's native language, is shown by some studies to be processed similarly to voiced text.
7.   Voiced text and graphics are better that text on screen and graphics. So perhaps signed language and graphics are better than text and graphics. 
8.     Text and graphics on screen increase learning if: 
Words and pictures are shown at the same time.         Illustrations are weeded. Text and pictures are physically close to one another.  An integrated instructional format is used. This means that the explanation of parts of a illustration are actually in the illustration, not separated above or below the graphic.
9. If students verbalize about their learning, they are better able to solve novel, ill-defined problems.
10.     Retention/transfer is greater when students build their own personal, external graphical representations. This is known as “Activation.”

Chandler, Paul and John Sweller. Cognitive Load Theory and the Format of Instruction, Cognition and Instruction: 8(4) 1991, 293-332.

De Westelinck, Katrien and Martin Valcke. The Impact of External Graphical Representations in Different Knowledge Domains: Is There a Domain Effect?

Hickok, Gregory, Ursula Bellugi, and Edward S. Klima. Sign Language in the Brain, Scientific American, June 2001.

Ibrahim, Mohamed and Pavlo D. Antonenko. Effects of Segmenting, Signaling, and Weeding on Learning from an Educational Video.

James, S. A. (2001, June 7). Magazine articles in APA format. Newsweek, 20, 48-52.

Mayer, Richard E. and Roxana Moreno. Nine Ways to Reduce Cognitive Load in Multimedia Learning. Educational Psychologist, 38(1), 43-52.

Thomas, Nigel J. T. Dual coding and Common Coding Theories of Memory, Mental Imagery, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Winter 2011 Edition.


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