Problem format and presentation sequence: Effects on learning and mental effort among US high school students

Zane Olina, Robert Reiser, Xiaoxia Huang, Jung Lim, Sanghoon Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The study involving 209 high school students in an instructional program about comma rules was an attempt to test the concepts of cognitive load theory in a real classroom setting. It investigated the effects of (a) cued versus conventional problems and (b) blocked versus random problem presentation sequence during practice on the performance and perceived mental effort of lower- and higher-achieving students. The researchers anticipated that cued problems would reduce learner extraneous cognitive load while random problem presentation sequence would increase germane cognitive load. The researchers also predicted that expected effects may not hold true for higher-achieving students. The treatments yielded a near-significant interaction effect for mental effort ratings indicating that conventional problems may have appeared harder to lower-achieving students while cued problems may have appeared harder to higher-achieving students. There were no notable performance differences. Issues related to researching cognitive load theory effects in a real classroom setting are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-309
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Cognitive Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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