Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Spatially Distributed Instructions Improve Learning Outcomes and Efficiency

Jang, J and Schunn, CD and Nokes, TJ (2011) Spatially Distributed Instructions Improve Learning Outcomes and Efficiency. Journal of Educational Psychology, 103 (1). 60 - 72. ISSN 0022-0663

[img] Plain Text (licence)
Available under License : See the attached license file.

Download (1kB)


Learning requires applying limited working memory and attentional resources to intrinsic, germane, and extraneous aspects of the learning task. To reduce the especially undesirable extraneous load aspects of learning environments, cognitive load theorists suggest that spatially integrated learning materials should be used instead of spatially separated materials, thereby reducing the split-attention effect (Sweller & Chandler, 1994). Recent work, however, has suggested a new distinction between two common formats of spatially separated displays: spatially distributed versus spatially stacked (Jang & Schunn, 2010). Moreover, a distinction between instructions and learning task materials has rarely been made. Across two studies with 106 college students (56 in Study 1 and 50 in Study 2), we compared spatially distributed (multiple sources of information are placed side by side) versus spatially stacked (only one at the top is visible) instructions, without changing the learning task materials, on both task performance and learning. With materials more typical of practice, Study 1 showed that the distributed-display instructions led learners to more efficient learning; learners finished the task faster and scored higher in the overall learning test. With materials more tightly controlled for spatial format per se, Study 2 replicated the effect and found that the benefit of the distributed instructions appeared to be associated with changes in cognitive load. Implications for educational practice are discussed. © 2011 American Psychological Association.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Jang, J
Schunn, CDschunn@pitt.eduSCHUNN0000-0003-3589-297X
Nokes, TJ
Centers: Other Centers, Institutes, Offices, or Units > Learning Research & Development Center
Date: 24 February 2011
Date Type: Publication
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Educational Psychology
Volume: 103
Number: 1
Page Range: 60 - 72
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1037/a0021994
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Psychology
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 0022-0663
Date Deposited: 23 Sep 2014 18:09
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2019 15:56


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item