Educational Psychology Review

, Volume 22, Issue 2, pp 123–138

Element Interactivity and Intrinsic, Extraneous, and Germane Cognitive Load

Review Article


In cognitive load theory, element interactivity has been used as the basic, defining mechanism of intrinsic cognitive load for many years. In this article, it is suggested that element interactivity underlies extraneous cognitive load as well. By defining extraneous cognitive load in terms of element interactivity, a distinct relation between intrinsic and extraneous cognitive load can be established based on whether element interactivity is essential to the task at hand or whether it is a function of instructional procedures. Furthermore, germane cognitive load can be defined in terms of intrinsic cognitive load, thus also associating germane cognitive load with element interactivity. An analysis of the consequences of explaining the various cognitive load effects in terms of element interactivity is carried out.


Cognitive load theory Element interactivity Extraneous cognitive load Intrinsic cognitive load Germane cognitive load 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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