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Cognitive Load Theory: Medical Education

Relating cognitive load theory to medical education, how can this theory be applied in lesson planning? We must only use this one theory to describe how we can apply the theory behind this process in medical education lesson planning. For example, if we were to teach the student on the ECG tracing of the heart in a 3 hour session, how would we used cognitive load theory to best plan this lesson?

This should include a brief history of CLT, details of the theory, how it has evolved medical education and how it can be used to plan a lesson on teaching the ECG (heart tracing).

This essay is primarily focused on teaching undergraduate medical students the ECG ( Using cognitive load theory to plan a lesson (justifying each section of the lesson plan using cognitive load theory).

Please include as many references as possible.

This is for a masters level report.

Solution Preview

In accordance with BrainMass standards this is not a hand in ready essay but only guidelines.

Step 1
Cognitive load theory provides a framework that enables instructional designers to control the condition of learning within instructional materials. The theory can be applied to plan a lesson on teaching the ECG. The Cognitive load theory provides empirically based guidelines the help medical instructors designing heart tracing or ECG to focus learner attention towards relevant materials, increasing relevant cognitive load.

Step 2
Cognitive load refers to the total amount of mental effort being used in the working memory. The cognitive load theory was developed from the study of problem solving by John Sweller in 1980s. According to the theory, instructional design can be used to reduce cognitive load in learners. The theory differentiates cognitive load into three types, intrinsic, extraneous, and germane.

The history of cognitive load theory begins with the beginning of Cognitive Science in 1950s and the work of G A Miller. Miller suggested that our working memory has inbuilt limits. In 1970s, Simon and Chase used the term chunk to describe the organization of information by individuals in short-term memory. In 1980s the cognitive load theory was developed by John Sweller. According to him, instructional planning should develop instructional materials that do not involve problem solving. He suggested the development of instructional materials that had worked examples and goal free problems. During the 1990, the cognitive load theory was applied to several contexts such as the completion problem effect, modality effect, split attention effect, and expertise reversal effect (a).

Cognitive load theory says that intrinsic cognitive load is the inherent level of difficulty associated with a specific instructional topic. Medical instruction also has an inherent difficulty associated with it. Extraneous cognitive load is generated by the manner in which information is presented to learners and can be controlled by instructional designers. In medical education, extrinsic load is attributed to the design of instructional materials. For example, an ECG change can be described verbally but it is far faster to show the change of ECG in the form of a chart. It takes relatively less effort to see the change on a chart. Germane cognitive load is the load that is devoted to the processing, construction, and automation of schemas (b). Cognitive load theory suggests that extrinsic and germane loads can be manipulated by instructional designs. The point is that cognitive load researchers seek ways to redesign instruction to redirect what would be extraneous load to now germane load.

The theory when applied to ECG instruction means that extraneous load can be reduced by the use of goal-free tasks, worked examples, and completion tasks by integrating different sources of information. ECG (heart tracing) instruction can be enhanced by using multiple modalities, and reducing redundancies. Intrinsic load in ECG (heart tracing) instruction can be managed by simple to complex ordering of learning tasks and working from low to high fidelity environments. In ECG (heart tracing) instruction, germane load can be optimized by increasing variability over tasks, applying contextual interference and evoking self-explanation.

Cognitive load theory says that learning happens best under conditions that are aligned with human cognitive architecture. The point ...

Solution Summary

This solution explains how cognitive load theory can be applied in medical education. The sources used are also included in the solution.