The term Cognitive load refers to the number of working memory resources that have been used already. It typically increases when unnecessary pressure or demands get imposed on a learner. These demands could be inadequate teaching methods that are used by educators or unnecessary distractions of a classroom.
Cognitive learning is based on the cognitive learning theory that was developed in the late 1980s. John Sweller, who was working on a study of problem-solving, came up with it. He argued that to reduce cognitive load in learners, instructional design can be used.
The theory of cognitive load aims to analyze how the load caused by learning tasks can hamper the student’s ability to process fresh information. Cognitive load theory distinguishes cognitive load into three types.
This type of load is associated with the effort around a precise topic. It represents the inherent difficulty involved in specific materials or tasks. Chandler and Sweller used the term intrinsic load for the first time in the early 1990s. They felt that every instruction comes with its own set of inherent difficulties.
This load gets produced by the commands imposed on the learners by the instructors. It can be attributed to the structure of the instructional materials. So naturally, it increases due to ineffective teaching methods.
This third type of load was described by Sweller, Paas, and Van Merrienboer in 1998. It is produced due to the construction of schemas. The reason it’s considered desirable is because of the belief that it helps in learning new skills and retaining information.
Students get to learn new skills with more ease if the load is managed well. A high load can interfere with the creation of new memories. If teachers want to learn novel ways of presenting ideas to their students, understanding cognitive load theory is essential.