External and mental referencing of multiple representations
This article reports on two experimental studies that investigate the impact of integration and external activity on an instructional support method that encourages learners to systematically and interactively integrate multiple representations in the external environment. The experiments compared different kinds of relating representations to each other: Interactive integration of representations, interactive referencing without integration, prompted mental referencing without interactivity, and spontaneous referencing without interactivity or instruction to relate different representations to each other. Results suggest that step-by-step integration of information can reduce extraneous cognitive load in such a way that externally relating multiple representations can be managed within the realms of working memory capacity, whereas it is revealed that interactive referencing without integrating representations externally was just as effective as prompted mental referencing. The experiments clarify the importance of considering the different sources of cognitive load and the changes in these sources during learning.
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