Effect of instructional design based on cognitive load theory on students’ performances and the indicators of element interactivity

Research Article


  • Nesli Kala
  • Alipaşa Ayas




Cognitive Load Theory, The Indicators of Element Interactivity, Complexity, Effective Learning, Thermodynamics


Thermodynamics is one of the most complex topics in chemistry. Cognitive Load Theory claims that the complexity of a subject is mainly due to element interactivity - how many elements an individual must organise simultaneously in her/his working memory to master a topic. The simultaneous processing of various chemistry and mathematics concepts to learn thermodynamics puts a strain on the working memory capacity of the learner. Accordingly, what kind of change occurs in a learner’s cognitive processes according to the level of element interactivity is an issue that needs to be investigated. The aim of this study is to reveal the basic indicators of element interactivity and investigate the effects of instructional design on understanding subjects with different element interactivity levels. With this objective in mind, educational software comprising eight distinct sessions for instructional design was developed in accordance with the Cognitive Load Theory. The sample consisted of 37 freshmen who were taking classes in the Chemistry Department of a public university in Turkey. The instructional design was implemented with the experimental group while the control group followed the lecturer's instructional design. The results indicate that, in terms of the cognitive load in the learning process, the study time and the learning at the retention and transfer level are among the basic indicators of the element interactivity. This study also determined that the instructional design that is developed according to Cognitive Load Theory can provide effective learning at the retention and transfer levels in subjects with high element interactivity.


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