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Considering Cognitive Load as a Key Element in Instructional Design for Developing Graphical Capability

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Innovative Graphics Instruction

Tagged Division

Engineering Design Graphics

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.314.1 - 24.314.7



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Paper Authors

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Thomas Delahunty University of Limerick

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Niall Seery University of Limerick Orcid 16x16

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Raymond Lynch University of Limerick


Diarmaid Lane University of Limerick

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Diarmaid is a Lecturer in Technology Teacher Education at the University of Limerick. His research interests are in the areas of freehand sketching, cognition and spatial visualization. He is currently Director of Membership of the Engineering Design Graphics Division (EDGD).

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Considering cognitive load as a key element in instructional design for developing graphical capability AbstractDeveloping skills of graphical capability have been discussed as core competencies in the contextof general educational provision by numerous authors in recent years (Delahunty et al 2012, Seeryet al. 2012, Sorby 2009). The skills associated with this concept of capability include, inter alia,visuospatial reasoning and problem solving skills. Aligning with contemporary philosophises ofeducational provision, the flexible development of these skills is of core concern in a dynamicallyevolving societal context.Given this focus, the nature of instructional design within graphical education is of paramountimportance. Previous research by Delahunty et al. (2013a) has highlighted possible areas of concernin the application of theoretical graphical knowledge (developed through current educationalpractice) to applied problem solving activities. Further work has hypothesised the possibleunderlying variables which may be affecting the problem solving process including transfer issuesand conceptualisations of educational tasks (Delahunty et al. 2013b).The conceptualisation of tasks is hypothesised to be a core phenomenon in the process of problemsolving and must be investigated in the context of task design. However, in the context of designingtasks for learning purposes Sweller et al. (1998) discuss cognitive load as a further considerationwhich is often overlooked. It will be necessary to consider the two areas in parallel and inconjunction with efficacy of task performance in order to gain a deeper understanding of problemsolving processes within graphical learning.The research in this paper, which is part of a larger study currently underway at the University of____________, presents an exploration of cognitive load and its relationship to graphical problemsolving performance. In order to investigate possible relationships, graphical education studentsundertaking a 3rd year module were assigned a number of applied reasoning tasks. Performanceswere evaluated and compared to subjective ratings of cognitive load.The findings of this research align with the categorical definitions of the types of cognitive loadoutlined in previous research by Sweller et al. (1998). Taking these findings in conjunction withprevious exploratory work in the area of conceptualisation presents a promising approach toinvestigating underlying variables affecting problem solving efficacy within a teaching and learningcontext.

Delahunty, T., & Seery, N., & Lynch, R., & Lane, D. (2014, June), Considering Cognitive Load as a Key Element in Instructional Design for Developing Graphical Capability Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20205

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