Cognitive Load Theory and 4C/ID Model

Cognitive Load Theory and 4C/ID Model

The last couple of weeks, I have been looking into the depths of cognitive psychology in relation to instructional design. Whilst the field itself is quite extensive I have found wide range of angles that this research offers with game design. In saying that below is a very brief overview to give you context and background information to posts in the near future in relation to my research.

Two main areas I will briefly discuss within this post are that of Cognitive Load Theory and the 4C/ID Model. I am intending to design game mechanics around these theories and models and thought I would share the information that I have come across.

Cognitive Load Theory
Cognitive load theory comprises of three types; Intrinsic, Extraneous and Germane Cognitive Loads. When the three of these types of cogntive loads are combined they form the Overall Cognitive Load which can never exceed a learners working memory capacity for learning. (1)

Intrinsic Cognitive Load
– Associated with the element of interactivity.
– The load is fixed and cannot be manipulated by instructional design.

Extraneous Cognitive Load aka Ineffective Cognitive Load.
– Searching for information within the working memory in contrast to the process of constructing schema.
– The way in which information is presented to us and is under the influence of that of the instructional designer.

Germane Cognitive Load aka Effective Cognitive Load
– The higher the germane cognitive load the better it is to lead a learner into deeper learning.
– Responsible for the processing, construction and automation of schemas.
See also: Cognitive Load theory – John Sweller

4C/ID Model – Four Components/Instructional Design Model
This model contains four non-linear components of which are:

Learning Tasks
– Used to promote the construction of schema.
– Require learners to elaborate on existing knowledge.
– Design focus should be on the basis of developing schemata.
In reference to the 10 steps of complex learning:
1. Design Learning Tasks
2. Sequence Task Classes
3. Set Performance Objectives

Supportive Information
– Provides a bridge between the learners current knowledge and the learning tasks.
– The design should be aimed at developing meaningful relationships between learners’ prior experiences and the learning tasks with experiential approach. (2)
In reference to the 10 steps of complex learning:
4. Design Supportive Information
5. Analyse cognitive strategies
6. Analyse mental models

Just-In-Time (JIT) Information
– Relevant to Learning Tasks and Part-Task Practice
– Generating automated responses.
– Embedding procedural information into rules.
In reference to the 10 steps of complex learning:
7. Design Procedual Information
8. Analyse Cognitive Rules
9. Analyse Pre-requisite Knowledge

Part-Task Practice
– Rule automation
In reference to the 10 steps of complex learning:
10. Design Part-Task Practice

The 4C/ID model is a very interesting model to learn about. It provides foundational information that Huang and Johnson have adapted into game characteristics. (see book reference (1))

The following game characteristics have been associated with this model in reference to the journal article:

Fantasy and Changed Reality
Story and Representation
Engagement and Curiostiy
Role Playing
Multimodal Presentation

What I really find interesting through their article is how they relate the above characteristics to components of the 4C/ID model.

The refer to characteristic as having primary, secondary and tertiary components that are later on articulated in the form of radial diagrams.

Each of these 3 components are made up of one of the four components of the 4C/ID model.

For example:

Challenge (pg. 1154.)

Learning Task
– To create a challenging game-based learning environment.

Supportive Information
– Needs to be carefully designed in order to create a challenging instructional game.

Part-Task and Just-In-Time (JIT) information

The way in which the Characteristics are divided into three sections followed by the association of the four components make the designing of the characteristics and in turn game mechanics far more of a thought out process which provides an effective learning component rather than just that of something for entertainment.

I believe that there is a huge potential for this model as well as cognitive load theory to be implemented with and along side the use of game characteristics and game mechanics within video games. I myself am going to be drawing, mainly, upon these two ideas with the intention of creating a well structured game that is not just about begin fun, but structured in a way that the learner can gain something from the experience that can be adpated to both a classroom environment and real life situations.

I believe in this sense educational games can figuratively have their cake and eat it too, it’s just a matter of well throughout and researched game design.

Lastly as I mentioned in the beginning this is a very brief overview of the subject matter, some things are briefly described others are not very much so (i.e. game characteristics). If you want to know more or I have posted something that is incorrect drop me a line or check out the references listed here, they explain what I have mentioned in this post in much greater detail.

N.B All references to 10 steps to complex learning can be found in book references (2)

See also: 4C/ID Instructional Design Model

Book References

(1) Huang, W.D. & Johnson, T., 2009. Instructional Game Design Using Cognitive Load Theory. In Handbook of Research on Effective Electronic Gaming in Education. pp. 1143–1165.

(2) Kirschner, P. & Van Merriënboer, J., 2008. Ten Steps to Complex Learning A New Approach to Instruction and Instructional Design. In 21st century education: a reference handbook.

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