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Cognitive load and the four architectures

How do each of the four architectures interact with working memory? In general, the receptive architecture will impose the greatest load on working memory—especially if large amounts of complex and dense technical information are displayed. This is because the learner may have few opportunities for interaction, and there may be little opportunity to control the rate of delivery of information.

In contrast, the directive architecture provides a great deal of load support. Information is chunked into short sequences with much practice and with feedback interspersed throughout. Feedback is used to inform learners of errors and direct corrective action.

The guided discovery architecture could impose considerable load, and it is up to the designer to support learners with coaching and hints to minimize the "flounder factor" that can result when solving problems unaided. Load management in this architecture is referred to as "scaffolding."

The exploratory architecture leaves load control to the learner—an effective strategy for learners with prior experience in the subject being taught or for learners who have good self-regulatory skills.

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