Interdisciplinary perspectives on cognitive load research as a key to tackle challenges of contemporary education

Fred Paas*, Tamara Van Gog, Femke Kirschner, Nadine Marcus, Paul Ayres, John Sweller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter/Conference proceedingChapterAcademic


In this contribution we argue that challenges of contemporary education require new forms of collaboration and communication across disciplines. Interdisciplinary perspectives are needed to enable us to make truly original and useful contributions to cognitive load theory and practice. Using cognitive load theory as an example, I will show that the cutting edge of cognitive load research lies across the boundaries of disciplines. Four examples will be presented to illustrate how the transfer of methods and findings from exercise physiology, neuroscience, and cognitive aging research have advanced or may advance cognitive load theory: 1) Ratings of perceived exertion from the discipline of exercise physiology have been adapted and successfully used in cognitive load research to measure cognitive load. 2) Findings from recent neuroscience research may further the explanation for why dynamic visualizations are particularly effective when learning tasks involve human movement, and largely ineffective when depicting mechanical, non-human movement. 3) Research on interhemispheric cooperation is used as a model for cognitive load research into the effectiveness of group learning. 4) Cognitive aging research is used to show that age-related reductions in attentional control over information that was not initially relevant can actually lead to superior performance for older adults when this information serves as a solution to subsequent problems.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBeyond Knowledge
Subtitle of host publicationThe Legacy of Competence: Meaningful Computer-based Learning Environments
PublisherSpringer Netherlands
Number of pages3
ISBN (Print)9781402088261
Publication statusPublished - 2008


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