Document Type : Original Research Paper-English Issue


1 Department of Physics, Shahid Rajaee Teacher Training University, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of English, Shahid Rajaee Teacher Training University, Tehran, Iran


Background and Objectives: The emergence of COVID-19 has brought about a sudden shift to e-learning and virtual platforms. Teachers play a key role in developing e-learning content. Hence, they must be familiar with the theories related to the cognitive constructs and e-learning principles to both facilitate the learning process and enhance the rate of learning and retention among the students. The cognitive load might increase unless the e-learning and experiential content is not developed according to the cognitive load theory, particularly for teaching physics as a field that requires multimodal presentation of the content. This might hinder the students’ learning and retention. In other words, if the principles of cognitive load theory are not observed in the design of electronic and multimedia content of course materials, the learning process will be disturbed and damaged due to the production of additional load beyond the memory capacity of the learners. The current study aimed to develop e-learning content for a concept in physics (e.g. pressure) based on the cognitive load theory. It further attempted to explore its possible impact on the learners’ levels of learning (knowledge, understanding, application) and the degree of their retention.
Materials and Methods: The study adopted a quasi-experimental pre-test post-test design with an experimental and a control group. The statistical population included all female ninth graders in district 17, Tehran, the capital of Iran. The sample consisted of 120 learners via multistage stratified random sampling procedures. The participants were assigned to experimental and control groups. To gather the required data, a researcher-made test was used and its reliability was calculated via Cronbach’s alpha as 0.85. The students took part in a three-week virtual empirical sciences course comprising six sixty-minute sessions. Before offering the course, the educational objectives of chapter 8 of the empirical sciences textbook in the ninth grade related to the subject “pressure” were determined using the teacher’s manual and eliciting the experienced sciences and physics teachers’ expert comments. Then, their level of cognitive processing was identified based on Bloom’s taxonomy. The objectives were categorized into three groups of knowledge, understanding, and application. To analyze the data, analysis of covariance and an independent samples t-test were used via SPSS (20.00).
Findings: The results of the analysis of covariance for learning levels (knowledge, understanding, and application) demonstrated that developing e-learning materials based on the cognitive load theory enhanced the learners’ levels of learning in the experimental group compared to those in the control group (P < 0.05). Moreover, the results of an independent samples t-test for the delayed post-test revealed a significant difference between the participants in experimental and control groups in terms of their degree of retention (P < 0.01).
Conclusions:  The findings implied that considering the principles of the cognitive load theory in developing e-learning materials for physics would positively influence the learners’ levels of learning and their degree of retention. Therefore, it is recommended to designers of e-learning content to consider the principles of cognitive load theory in the design and production of their content.


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