Publication Date

Spring 2016

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Ronald F. Rogers


cognitive workload, learning, online education, online pedagogy

Subject Areas

Educational psychology; Cognitive psychology


The use of recorded lecture video is a common online practice, although the implementation of this pedagogy varies and may have differential impacts on learning depending on the extent to which it increases cognitive workload. This study compared two different online statistics lecture formats: interactive and non-interactive. The interactive lecture video stopped approximately every minute and the participant had to answer a question regarding the material before moving on to the next section of the video. The non-interactive lecture video was the exact same video edited to remove all interactive breaks in the video. Cognitive workload was measured using the NASA Task Load Index and learning was assessed using performance on a quiz. Seventy participants from the San Jose State research pool were included in the analysis. The researcher predicted that cognitive workload would be a mediating variable in the relationship between online pedagogy and learning, such that an interactive pedagogy would be associated with lower cognitive workload and result in larger learning gains compared to a non-interactive pedagogy. The researcher concluded that cognitive workload was not a mediating variable for online pedagogy and learning. Online pedagogy did not predict learning. However, the type of pedagogy had an effect on cognitive workload, such that the non-interactive group had lower cognitive workload scores. Developers of online pedagogy should recognize that cognitive workload differs across pedagogies and the impact on learning should remain the final assessment of any given approach.