Structuring the transition from example study to problem solving in cognitive skill acquisition: A cognitive load perspective

Alexander Renkl, Robert K. Atkinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

267 Scopus citations

Abstract

Cognitive load research has shown that learning from worked-out examples, in comparison to problem solving, is very effective during the initial stages of cognitive skill acquisition. In later stages, however, solving problems is superior. In this contribution, theoretical analyses of different types of cognitive load and their changes over the stages of skill acquisition are presented. Two basic arguments are put forth: (a) Intrinsic cognitive load gradually decreases so that a gradual increase of problem-solving demands is possible without inducing cognitive overload, (b) In contrast to the earlier stages, different learner activities during the later stages constitute either germane or extraneous load, because different instructional goals are to be achieved. Based on these analyses, we propose a fading procedure in which problem-solving elements are successively integrated into example study until the learners are expected to solve problems on their own. Empirical evidence supporting this fading procedure is provided, and future research is proposed that focuses on how to ensure that the fading procedure is adaptive to the learners' prior knowledge levels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15-22
Number of pages8
JournalEducational Psychologist
Volume38
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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