Applying Cognitive Load Theory to Elder Learners Suffering from Age-Related Cognitive Decline
The struggles faced by elder learners suffering from age-related cognitive decline are often overlooked by instructional designers. However, existing educational theories that already inform learning strategy development for other populations should also help establish instructional methods used to help elder learners. In this article, cognitive load theory frames an exploration of proposed means to slow or counteract the effects of age-related cognitive decline in elder learners. Attention is given to the ways in which multimedia learning methods adhering to certain principles of cognitive load theory can increase available working memory capacity. Evidence is provided to show that cognitive load theory-based practices can also facilitate one’s activation of prior knowledge and betters one’s attentional control. Additionally, elder learners benefit from tasks that include worked examples and goal-free problems, whereas conventional, goal-oriented problems impose greater extraneous load on an already taxed working memory. The outcomes of the present analysis can also be applied to stroke victims’ rehabilitation plans and may offer implications for individuals suffering from other brain injuries, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, or dementia-related illnesses.
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