Measuring cognitive load in the presence of educational video: Towards a multimodal methodology

Jan-Louis Kruger, Stephen Doherty


The use of video has become well established in education, from traditional courses to blended and online courses. It has grown both in its diversity of applications as well as its content. Such educational video however is not fully accessible to all students, particularly those who require additional visual support or students studying in a foreign language. Subtitles (also known as captions) represent a unique solution to these language and accessibility barriers, however, the impact of subtitles on cognitive load in such a rich and complex multimodal environment has yet to be determined. Cognitive load is a complex construct and its measurement by means of single indirect and unidimensional methods is a severe methodological limitation. Building upon previous work from several disciplines, this paper moves to establish a multimodal methodology for the measurement of cognitive load in the presence of educational video. We show how this methodology, with refinement, can allow us to determine the effectiveness of subtitles as a learning support in educational contexts. This methodology will also make it possible to analyse the impact of other multimedia learning technology on cognitive load.


Cognitive Load; Educational Video; Multimodal Measurement; Subtitling

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