Application of Cognitive Load Theory in Accounting Education

Seedwell T. M. Sithole


The field of accounting education has recently adopted cognitive load theory (CLT), which originated in educational psychology. There are several empirical studies inspired by CLT which have demonstrated the practical implications of this theory. Although some articles have addressed the relationship of CLT and accounting education, none have considered the integration of the design principles and provide practical guidelines accounting educators may follow. Three techniques are described, by which educators may do so: (a) minimising instructional procedures that splits the attention of students, (b) tailoring instruction to levels of accounting students' expertise, and (c) minimising problem-solving exercises and utilising more worked examples. A detailed examination of these 3 techniques indicates that they assist students’ understanding of accounting. These techniques are not applicable to all accounting learners but are more appropriate to accounting students learning a specific topic for the first time than to expert learners (e.g., final year students who have been introduced to the accounting topic). All 3 guidelines are based on the importance CLT places on the human cognitive architecture, particularly our knowledge of working and long-term memory, schema construction and automation, and the different types of cognitive load affecting the students to absorb and retain information.

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International Journal of Accounting and Financial Reporting  ISSN 2162-3082

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