Cognitive Loads and Training Success in a Video-Based Online Training Course

Klaus D. Stiller*, Annamaria Köster
Department of Educational Science, University of Regensburg, Regensburg, Germany

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© 2017 Stiller and Köster.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: ( This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Educational Science, University of Regensburg, 93040 Regensburg, Germany, Tel: +49 941 943 3719, Fax: 49 941 943 2450; E-mail:



According to research based on cognitive load theory, the way of presenting information in an instructional environment is essential to the learning outcome. By avoiding unnecessary extraneous load caused by badly designed instructions and other sources, learners are more likely to successfully construct knowledge. In addition, learner characteristics are known to affect learning.


This study explores the effects of learners’ online learning experience, domain-specific prior knowledge, computer attitude and computer anxiety on their perceived intrinsic, extraneous and germane load and on their learning outcome in a video-based training course about media design for employees.

Method and Results:

Learning outcome was assessed by ratings of subjective learning success, ratings of professional competence, the number of completed modules and performance. None of the learning outcome variables could be modelled when entering learner characteristics in a regression analysis, but all could be modelled using the cognitive load ratings.


Thus, extraneous, intrinsic and germane load were the most important factors for explaining the learning outcome. This result points to the importance of instructional design and particularly to managing cognitive load in online training scenarios.

Keywords: Online training, Computer attitude, Computer anxiety, Prior knowledge, Online learning experience, Cognitive load.