Ghent University (BELGIUM)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2018 Proceedings
Publication year: 2018
Pages: 1591-1596
ISBN: 978-84-697-9480-7
ISSN: 2340-1079
doi: 10.21125/inted.2018.0277
Conference name: 12th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 5-7 March, 2018
Location: Valencia, Spain
According the multimedia principle, tablet devices are interesting learning tools for education because of their touch interfaces, and the features of influencing tactile, visual and auditory senses. Furthermore, the possibility to adapt the learning concerning students’ needs and the ability to provide rich learning content make this tool powerful to support a more constructivist, inquiry-based learning approach. However, little is known about how these tools may affect the learning process. From a cognitive load perspective, authentic inquiry-based learning using technology could be very demanding and could ask a lot from students, because they are characterized by many interacting elements, which consequently leads to a large amount of information that must be processed simultaneously in the limited available working memory. While available research indicates that the cognitive load of students is a good indicator to represent the impact of technology on the conceptual acquisition of the students, an investigation of cognitive load and its’ effects on students’ learning when using tablet devices is needed. In this light, a quasi-experimental study was set up during a four-week science course involving 133 students of 9th and 10th grade, and pretest-posttest differences were measured. Next to an achievement test, cognitive load was measured by using the NASA-TLX measurement. Students were randomly assigned to two conditions: 1) tasks on tablets with adapted learning material according to the students’ needs, 2) tasks on tablets without adaptive learning material. The adapted learning material was based on the theoretical framework of Tomlinson. Students in both the conditions used an inquiry-based tablet application. The results show that students gained knowledge after the intervention, and especially students of the experimental condition outperformed students who worked without adaptive material on their tablets. In addition, a paired-t-test shows that the cognitive load was significantly lower in the posttest compared with the cognitive load measured in the pretest. Furthermore, condition has an impact on students’ cognitive load. These results show that tablets can be introduced to reduce the cognitive load. However, while working with adapted material on tablets can meet students’ needs, one should be cautious with increasing the cognitive load. To conclude, this research confirms the importance to take cognitive load into account, because of its significant impact on students’ learning.
Tablet devices, cognitive load, secondary education, teacher.