Cognitive load measurement as a means to advance cognitive load theory

F. Paas, J.E. Tuovinen, H. Tabbers, P.W.M. van Gerven

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    1594 Citations (Scopus)


    This paper discusses cognitive load measurement techniques with regard to their contribution to cognitive load theory (CLT). CLT is concerned with the design of instructional methods that efficiently use people's limited cognitive processing capacity to apply acquired knowledge and skills to new situations (i.e., transfer). CLT is based on a cognitive architecture that consists of a limited working memory with partly independent processing units for visual and auditory information, which interacts with an unlimited long-term memory. These structures and functions of human cognitive architecture have been used to design a variety of novel efficient instructional methods. The associated research has shown that measures of cognitive load can reveal important information for CLT that is not necessarily reflected by traditional performance-based measures. Particularly, the combination of performance and cognitive load measures has been identified to constitute a reliable estimate of the mental efficiency of instructional methods. The discussion of previously used cognitive load measurement techniques and their role in the advancement of CLT is followed by a discussion of aspects of CLT to which measurement of cognitive load is likely to be of benefit. Within the cognitive load framework, we will also discuss some promising new techniques.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)63-71
    JournalEducational Psychologist
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


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