Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Accounting, Economics, and Finance


Students frequently struggle with poor instructional design. A common example of poor design is where students are required to split their attention between several sources of information found in textbooks and other documents. Learners need to mentally integrate two or more distinct items of information, and this places unnecessary demands on cognitive load. Cognitive load theory assumes that the task of mental integration increases the load on already limited working memory, and it does so to such an extent that learning may be severely impeded. This thesis investigates how students could deal with cognitive overload when learning introductory accounting using three instructional design formats, the split-attention format, the integrated format, and the self-managed format. Two experiments investigated whether students who learned under the self-managed load format would outperform students in both the conventional split-attention format group and an instructor-managed integrated format group. In the two experiments, participants were randomly assigned to the three conditions.