Cognitive Load

Cognitive load denotes the mental strain within working memory. It’s segmented into three kinds: intrinsic, based on subject complexity; extraneous, from delivery; and germane, fostering deep learning. Individual differences, such as age and expertise, and factors like task difficulty affect its impact.


Cognitive load refers to the total amount of mental effort being used in the working memory.

Intrinsic Load

  • Derived from the inherent difficulty of the material being learned.
  • Influenced by prior knowledge and expertise in a domain.

Extraneous Load

  • Imposed by the way information or tasks are presented to learners.
  • Unnecessary burdens that don’t contribute to learning.

Germane Load

  • Cognitive resources used to construct and automate schemas.
  • Represents the effort directed towards meaningful learning.

Working Memory

  • The temporary storage and manipulation of information.
  • Limited in capacity and duration.

Long-Term Memory

  • The permanent storage of knowledge and skills.
  • Schemas are stored in long-term memory.


  • Mental constructs that categorize information based on shared attributes.
  • Facilitate the understanding and retrieval of information.


  • Process by which tasks become automatic with practice.
  • Reduces the load on working memory.

Split-Attention Effect

  • Occurs when learners must divide attention between multiple sources of information.
  • Increases extraneous load.

Modality Effect

Information presented in dual modes (e.g., visual and auditory) can be more easily processed than using a single modality.

Redundancy Effect

Overlap in the information presented can lead to increased extraneous load.

Expertise Reversal Effect

Strategies that work for novices may not be effective for experts, and vice versa.

Transient Information

  • Information that disappears after being presented.
  • Increases cognitive load as learners try to retain it.

Applications in Education

  • Designing instructional materials to minimize extraneous load.
  • Utilizing worked examples for novices.
  • Providing problem-solving opportunities for more advanced learners.

Applications in Technology

  • Designing user interfaces that minimize unnecessary cognitive demands.
  • Offering multimodal information presentation.