Cognitive load theory is a field of research used to improve the learning of complex cognitive tasks by matching instruction to the learner’s cognitive architecture. We used an experimental posttest control-group design to test the effectiveness of instruction designed to reduce cognitive load (CL) and improve instructional effectiveness in teaching complex instruction to 24 first-year master’s students under authentic classroom conditions. We modified historically taught instruction using an isolated-to-interacting-elements sequencing approach intended to reduce high CL levels. We compared control and modified instructional formats using written assessment scores, subjective ratings of CL, and task completion times. Analysis of variance revealed significant differences for postinstruction, posttest CL ratings, and delayed written posttest scores (p < .05). No significant differences were identified for posttest completion times. Findings suggest that this approach can be used to improve instructional efficiency in teaching human locomotion to occupational therapy students.

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