The implementation of pre-lecture resources to reduce in-class cognitive load: A case study for higher education chemistry

Seery, M. K. and Donnelly, R. (2012) The implementation of pre-lecture resources to reduce in-class cognitive load: A case study for higher education chemistry. British Journal of Educational Technology, 43 (4). pp. 667-677. ISSN 00071013 (ISSN)

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This case study describes an effective method to ameliorate the cognitive load caused by new terminology and concepts in lectures. Ten online pre-lecture resources whose design was underpinned by the principles of cognitive load theory were provided to a class of 49 first year university level chemistry students. Each resource introduced a number of key concepts to the forthcoming lecture and included a quiz for students to test understandings and identify misconceptions. The evaluation of the implementation of resources was measured by considering the difference in exam marks for in-semester test and end of module exam. These showed that the marks for students who had no prior knowledge of chemistry before coming to college significantly improved to the point that there was no difference between students with and without prior knowledge. A key outcome of this work is that providing students with resources to prepare for lectures can help in reducing their cognitive load. © 2012 BERA. Published by Blackwell Publishing.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Cited By :3; Export Date: 23 February 2015; CODEN: BJETD; Correspondence Address: Seery, M.K.; School of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Dublin Institute of Technology, Kevin Street, Dublin 8, Ireland; email:; References: Ayres, P., Paas, F., Interdisciplinary perspectives inspiring a new generation of cognitive load research (2009) Educational Psychology Review, 21 (1), pp. 1-9; Chandrasegaran, A.L., Treagust, D.F., Mocerino, M., The development of a two-tier multiple-choice diagnostic instrument for evaluating secondary school students' ability to describe and explain chemical reactions using multiple levels of representation (2007) Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 8 (3), pp. 293-307; Chen, Z., Stelzer, T., Gladding, G., Using multimedia modules to better prepare students for introductory physics lecture (2010) Physical Review Special Topics-Physics Education Research, 6, pp. 1-5; Clarke, R.C., Mayer, R.E., (2008) E-Learning and the Science of Instruction, , (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer (Wiley); Collard, D.M., Girardot, S.P., Deutsch, H.M., From the textbook to the lecture: Improving prelecture preparation in organic chemistry (2002) Journal of Chemical Education, 79 (4), pp. 520-523; Cooper, M., The case for reform of the undergraduate general chemistry curriculum (2010) Journal of Chemical Education, 87 (3), pp. 231-232; Dochy, F.J.R.C., Segers, M., Buehl, M.M., The relation between assessment practices and outcomes of studies: The case of research on prior knowledge (1999) Review of Educational Research, 69, pp. 145-186; Johnstone, A.H., You can't get there from here (2009) Journal of Chemical Education, 87 (1), pp. 22-29; De Jong, T., Cognitive load theory, educational research, and instructional design: Some food for thought (2010) Instructional Science, 38 (2), pp. 105-134; Lineweaver, T.T., Online discussion assignments improve students' class preparation (2010) Teaching of Psychology, 37 (3), pp. 204-209; Mayer, R.E., Cognitive theory of multimedia learning (2005) Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning, pp. 31-48. , In R. E. Mayer (Ed.),. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; Narloch, R., Garbin, C.P., Turnage, K.D., Benefits of prelecture quizzes (2006) Teaching of Psychology, 33 (2), pp. 109-112; Nicol, D., Laying a foundation for lifelong learning: Case studies of e-assessment in large 1st-year classes (2007) British Journal of Educational Technology, 38 (4), pp. 668-678. , [Article]; Nicol, D., Assessment for learner self-regulation: Enhancing achievement in the first year using learning technologies (2009) Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 34 (3), pp. 335-352. , [Proceedings Paper]; Robson, C., (2002) Real World Research, , (2nd ed.). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing; Seery, M.K., The role of prior knowledge in undergraduate performance in chemistry - A correlation-prediction study (2009) Chemistry Education Research and Practice, 10, pp. 227-232; Sirhan, G., Gray, C., Johnstone, A.H., Reid, N., Preparing the mind of the learner (1999) University Chemistry Education, 3 (2), pp. 43-46; Sirhan, G., Reid, N., Preparing the mind of the learner-part 2 (2001) University Chemistry Education, 5, pp. 52-58; Slunt, K.M., Giancarlo, L.C., Student-centered learning: A comparison of two different methods of instruction (2004) Journal of Chemical Education, 81 (7), pp. 985-988; Stelzer, T., Brookes, D.T., Gladding, G., Mestre, J.P., Impact of multimedia learning modules on an introductory course on electricity and magnetism (2010) American Journal of Physics, 78 (7), pp. 755-759; Sweller, J., Human cognitive architechture (2008) Handbook of Research on Educational Communications and Technology, pp. 369-381. , In J. M. Spector, M. D. Merrill, J. van Merrienboer & M. P. Driscoll (Eds), (3rd ed.). New York: Routledge; Yorke, M., Longden, B., (2004) Retention and Student Success in Higher Education, , Maidenhead: Society for Research into Higher Education and Open University Press
Uncontrolled Keywords: Chemistry students; Cognitive load theory; Cognitive loads; First year; Higher education; Prior knowledge; University levels; Education; Students
Depositing User: National Forum
Date Deposited: 06 Dec 2015 18:19
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2015 07:57

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