Lerarenopleidingen Science en Wiskunde/Rekenen

Cognitive load en de klas – Seminar Anne Jonker

mathematics education seminar : Anne Jonker, TU Delft

Development of an instrument measuring different types of cognitive load while conducting a peer discussion.

8 juni 2023, 15:30 – 17:00.

Teams online Link


An internationally recognised problem is that many students forget a substantial part of the learned material only a few weeks after the test. This hinders learning new material because it makes it more difficult for the student to combine the new with the old material, especially in a subject such as mathematics, where one constantly builds on previous knowledge. The aim of this research is to develop an educational approach that increases the retention of learned mathematical material by secondary school students (aged 15 to 18).

Learning and remembering occur when there has been a change in long-term memory. To better store the learned material in long-term memory, a number of techniques are known: active thinking about the material, self-explaining, retrieval practice, and testing.

An instructional strategy that connects to many of the points above and, therefore, could have a considerable positive effect on retention is Peer Instruction (PI). In this strategy, developed by Mazur, multiple-choice questions are followed by peer discussions. Several positive aspects of PI among students have been demonstrated. PI reveals misconceptions , stimulates the development of conceptual understanding, and improves student performance. However, little research has been done on the results of PI in mathematics in secondary education. In addition, there is an insufficient understanding of the mechanisms behind PI that explain these positive results. And it is unclear whether, and if so, to what extent, PI is more successful than other instructional discussion strategies in secondary education.

In literature, negative aspects of peer discussions by secondary students are discussed. For example, conducting a peer discussion is cognitively demanding for students and could cause a cognitive overload. PI could therefore be less suitable for secondary school students.

In the first sub-study, a systematic literature review is carried out into the aspects of the cognitive load theory (CLT) affecting the cognitive load while conducting a (peer)discussion. The aim is to develop design criteria for an instructional discussion strategy to decrease extraneous load and increase the germane load. The main goal of this first study is to develop an instrument for measuring cognitive load.


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