Cognitive load theory, educational research, and instructional design; some food for thought

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Cognitive load is a theoretical notion with an increasingly central role in the educational research literature. The basic idea of cognitive load theory is that cognitive capacity in working memory is limited, so that if a learning task requires too much capacity, learning will be hampered. The recommended remedy is to design instructional systems that optimize the use of working memory capacity and avoid cognitive overload. Cognitive load theory has advanced educational research considerably and has been used to explain a large set of experimental findings. This article sets out to explore the open questions and the boundaries of cognitive load theory by identifying a number of problematic conceptual, methodological and application-related issues. It concludes by presenting a research agenda for future studies of cognitive load.
Original languageUndefined
Pages (from-to)105-134
JournalInstructional science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • IR-83024
  • Cognitive load theory
  • METIS-269482

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