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01-02-2016 | Original Article | Uitgave 1/2016 Open Access

Perspectives on Medical Education 1/2016

Measuring cognitive load: mixed results from a handover simulation for medical students

Tijdschrift:
Perspectives on Medical Education > Uitgave 1/2016
Auteurs:
John Q. Young, David M. Irby, Maria-Louise Barilla-LaBarca, Olle ten Cate, Patricia S. O’Sullivan

Abstract

Introduction

The application of cognitive load theory to workplace-based activities such as patient handovers is hindered by the absence of a measure of the different load types. This exploratory study tests a method for measuring cognitive load during handovers.

Methods

The authors developed the Cognitive Load Inventory for Handoffs (CLI4H) with items for intrinsic, extraneous, and germane load. Medical students completed the measure after participating in a simulated handover. Exploratory factor and correlation analyses were performed to collect evidence for validity.

Results

Results yielded a two-factor solution for intrinsic and germane load that explained 50 % of the variance. The extraneous load items performed poorly and were removed from the model. The score for intrinsic load correlated with the Paas Cognitive Load scale (r = 0.31, p = 0.004) and was lower for students with more prior handover training (p = 0.036). Intrinsic load did not, however, correlate with performance. Germane load did not correlate with the Paas Cognitive Load scale but did correlate as expected with performance (r = 0.30, p = 0.005) and was lower for those students with more prior handover training (p = 0.03).

Conclusions

The CLI4H yielded mixed results with some evidence for validity of the score from the intrinsic load items. The extraneous load items performed poorly and the use of only a single item for germane load limits conclusions. The instrument requires further development and testing. Study results and limitations provide guidance to future efforts to measure cognitive load during workplace-based activities, such as handovers.
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