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Designing instructional materials for teaching HTML to create Web page tables: Applying cognitive load theory

Nanette M Hogg, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of instructional method and prior knowledge level when learning highly interactive material on the variables of test scores, test time, study time, and cognitive load as rated by the participant. The material used in this study was the highly interactive code and attributes to create HTML tables. Subjects were 69 males and 82 females who ranged in age from 19 to 55 years. They were randomly assigned to one of three instructional methods (Isolation Group, Interaction Group and Choice Group). Three instruments were used during this experiment: a prior knowledge test, a subjective rating scale to measure cognitive load, and a posttest to measure the learning that took place during the instructional phase. The dependent variables were the subjective cognitive load rating scale scores, the time spent studying, the time spent taking the test, and the test scores. Four two-factor analyses of variances (ANOVA) were used to analyze the data, one ANOVA for each dependent variable. Factor A for each analysis was the level of HTML experience indicated by the subjects, and Factor B was the instructional method to which the subjects were randomly assigned. A computer program was used to present the instructional material, recorded answers to the practice and the test questions, and recorded the time spent in the study section and in the test section. The program also recorded the subjective rating after each instructional section, each practice question, and each test question. Results indicated that prior knowledge had significant (p < .05) effects on cognitive load rating, test scores, and time to complete the test. The groups with no prior knowledge of HTML reported significantly higher cognitive load, took less time to complete the test and had significantly lower test scores. The groups with high prior knowledge of HTML had significantly higher test scores and took significantly longer time to complete the test with significantly lower mental effort. ^

Subject Area

Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Technology of|Education, Curriculum and Instruction

Recommended Citation

Hogg, Nanette M, "Designing instructional materials for teaching HTML to create Web page tables: Applying cognitive load theory" (2004). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3126953.