Monday, May 20, 2019

Should We Use Background Music With Instruction? No.

The general rationale for not using background music is that it increases harmful cognitive load. Cognitive load relates to mental processes (like perception, thinking, and organizing) used for thinking, learning, and working. Working memory needs to process new information but it has considerable constraints (in capacity for new material and holding time). John Sweller, a well-known researcher and writer on memory and cognitive load and other aspects of learning, reminds us we must design with how our mental processes work. If we don’t, people can’t learn. And learning quickly is a mandate for current organizational conditions.
There are two types of cognitive load: helpful and harmful. We call the harmful type extraneous cognitive load and, when we don’t reduce this type of cognitive load, we make it harder to learn. Here are some examples of extraneous (harmful) cognitive load:
  • Too much content
  • Decorative and irrelevant graphics
  • Unnecessary explanations
  • Unnecessary media
Stop reading for a moment and think about why these items cause harmful cognitive load, given what I told you about working memory (Really! Try to answer the question before going ahead). Then look at my answer below.
Read the entire article on eLearning Industry.

1 comment:

  1. Working memory can only handle so much. Unnecessary things get in the way.

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