Effects of pairs of problems and examples on task performance and different types of cognitive load

Jimmie Leppink*, Fred Paas, Tamara van Gog, Cornelis van der Vleuten, Jeroen J. G. van Merrienboer

*Corresponding author for this work

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In two studies, we investigated whether a recently developed psychometric instrument can differentiate intrinsic, extraneous, and germane cognitive load. Study I revealed a similar three-factor solution for language learning (n = 108) and a statistics lecture (n = 174), and statistics exam scores correlated negatively with the factors assumed to represent intrinsic and extraneous cognitive load during the lecture. In Study II, university freshmen who studied applications of Bayes' theorem in example example (n = 18) or example problem (n = 18) condition demonstrated better posttest performance than their peers who studied the applications in problem example (n = 18) or problem problem (n = 20) condition, and a slightly modified version of the aforementioned psychometric instrument could help researchers to differentiate intrinsic and extraneous cognitive load. The findings provide support for a recent reconceptualization of germane cognitive load as referring to the actual working memory resources devoted to dealing with intrinsic cognitive load.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-42
JournalLearning and Instruction
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014


  • Cognitive load
  • Example-example pairs
  • Example-problem pairs
  • Problem-example pairs
  • Problem-problem pairs

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