CAPs are created using Mayer’s Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning (CTML), which is based on cognitive load theory (Chandler & Sweller, 1991), the dual processing principle (Paivio, 1986) and Baddeley’s model of working memory (1986). All instruction imposes a certain amount of intrinsic cognitive load on a learner depending on factors relating to the content’s inherent difficulty and the motivation of the learner (Sweller, Ayers, & Kalyuga, 2011). In addition, all instruction carries the capacity to introduce extraneous cognitive load, which interferes with learning and can lead to additional intrinsic load (Mayer, 2014). Extraneous load can be controlled by designing instruction using specific instructional design principles (Mayer, 2014); The Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning (2nd Edition) Edited by Professor Mayer has chapters on each of these principles. Finally, learners need to use their germane (or active learning processes) load to overcome the inherent intrinsic load created by the content and support movement of new information from working to long-term memory. Mayer’s CTML and accompanying instructional design principles (2014) help an instructor create instruction that minimizes extraneous load, and maximizes germane load to support active learning processes needed for overcoming the impact of intrinsic load.
Kennedy and his colleagues use this theoretical model in an applied way to create videos and other instructional materials. Therefore, while CAPs are quite simple in terms of how they look (still images paired with carefully delivered audio and occasional on-screen text), everything is done with the understanding that lowering intrinsic load via the minimization of extraneous load and maximization of germane load is the path to learning. When content is difficult to learn, like vocabulary terms in secondary-level science courses, intrinsic load is very high for many learners. Typical instructional methods (e.g., lecture) teachers choose to use (multimedia or not) can inadvertently introduce extraneous load, which lowers the student’s chance to learn the material. Multimedia is extremely seductive, because it can seem exciting when there is a lot of action on the screen, and the video moves quickly from topic to topic. However, off-the-rack videos can introduce extraneous load, and are likely not optimized to support a learner’s intrinsic and germane loads. Someone reporting that they like a video is not the same as being confident that it will result in learning.
References Baddeley, A. D. (1986). Working memory. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Chandler, P., & Sweller, J. (1991). Cognitive load theory and the format of instruction. Cognition and Instruction, 8, 293-332.http://dx.doi.org/10.1207/s1532690xci0804_2 Mayer, R. E. (2014). Incorporating motivation into multimedia learning. Learning and Instruction, 29, 171-173. Mayer, R. E. (2014). The Cambridge Handbook of Multimedia Learning (2nd Ed.). Cambridge. Paivio, A. (1986). Mental representations: A dual-coding approach. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. Sweller, J., Ayres, P. L., & Kalyuga, S. (2011). Cognitive load theory. New York: Springer.