Educational Studies 45 (1):57-71 (2017)

A 2 × 2 experiment was conducted to compare the effectiveness of using diagrams to writing summaries for students given biological information to learn and who possessed different levels of expertise in that topic area. A main effect of learning strategy used on number of idea units encoded was found: drawing diagrams was superior to writing summaries. However, no interaction effect between learning strategies and expertise was found. An examination of students’ subjective ratings of cognitive load revealed that those with low expertise reported higher levels of cognitive load when constructing diagrams. These findings suggest that using diagrams is effective for identifying and encoding important information when learning, but that it would be helpful to provide guidance about diagram use particularly to students who are novices in the topic area to reduce cognitive load.
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DOI 10.1080/03055698.2017.1390444
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