University of Oulu

Kirschner, P.A., Sweller, J., Kirschner, F. et al. Intern. J. Comput.-Support. Collab. Learn (2018) 13: 213.

From cognitive load theory to collaborative cognitive load theory

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Author: Kirschner, Paul A.1,2; Sweller, John3; Kirschner, Femke4;
Organizations: 1Open University of the Netherlands, Heerlen, The Netherlands
2University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
3University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia
4Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands
5Universidad de Los Hemisferios, Quito, Ecuador
6Instituto Tecnológico Superior Rumiñahui, Sangolquí, Ecuador
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2018
Publish Date: 2019-07-04


Cognitive load theory has traditionally been associated with individual learning. Based on evolutionary educational psychology and our knowledge of human cognition, particularly the relations between working memory and long-term memory, the theory has been used to generate a variety of instructional effects. Though these instructional effects also influence the efficiency and effectiveness of collaborative learning, be it computer supported or face-to-face, they are often not considered either when designing collaborative learning situations/environments or researching collaborative learning. One reason for this omission is that cognitive load theory has only sporadically concerned itself with certain particulars of collaborative learning such as the concept of a collective working memory when collaborating along with issues associated with transactive activities and their concomitant costs which are inherent to collaboration. We illustrate how and why cognitive load theory, by adding these concepts, can throw light on collaborative learning and generate principles specific to the design and study of collaborative learning.

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Series: International journal of computer-supported collaborative learning
ISSN: 1556-1607
ISSN-E: 1556-1615
ISSN-L: 1556-1607
Volume: 13
Issue: 2
Pages: 213 - 233
DOI: 10.1007/s11412-018-9277-y
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 516 Educational sciences
Copyright information: © The Author(s) 2018. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.