The use of gesturing to facilitate older adults' learning from computer-based dynamic visualizations
The present chapter describes the role of gestures in instructional design from a cognitive load theory perspective, addressing in particular how this might benefit aging adults. Healthy older adults have to cope with several cognitive changes related to their working memory, such as a decline in: 1) the ability to deal with interference, 2) cognitive speed in response to unimodal stimuli (e.g. visual information), and 3) the ability to associate and integrate information elements. Cognitive load theory, with its focus on adapting learning formats to the limitations of working memory, provides a promising framework to address learning in older adults. Research inspired by cognitive load theory has shown that attentional cueing can reduce interference during learning, presenting instructions in a multimodal format can make more efficient use of WM stores (both auditory and visual), and the manner of presentation of information can aid integrative learning. Interestingly, studies using gestures in instruction show that gestures accompanying verbal information improve learning in similar ways. However, not much research has been done in applying the instructional guidelines of cognitive load theory and the use of gestures to older adults' learning In the present chapter, the authors will discuss possibilities of gestures to improve multimedia learning in older adults using some important guidelines proposed by cognitive load theory.
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