Performance Loads


Q1) we have learnt concepts and automated reactions that we use in everyday tasks where actions require little cognitive loading in our busy lifestyles. We enjoy achieving simple tasks “a learner should be encouraged to use his/ her limited working memory efficiently” (Sweller, 2006) an example of this is brushing your teeth, an everyday task which  has a low performance loading therefore is completed with ease. More complicated tasks such as learning a computer program “without the appropriate instruction,it may easily impose a high burden on the cognitive system of the leaner” (Gary, Morrison, 2011) need to be precise and instructional. Kinematic loading is constantly being refined to make tasks physically quicker, for example a Nespresso Coffee machine makes a coffee in under 2 minutes, when compared with old-fashioned physical bean grinding, filtering and milk warming. The physical steps are reduced with the invention of ‘coffee pods’ which are inserted into the machine at ease. “they’re consistent, cheaper than hiring a barista, and take up less space than a traditional espresso machine” (Salter, 2013). Ikea furniture has a large Kinematic loading, as all products come flat-packed and require physical assembly through a series of instructions. “The flat pack plays an important role in IKEA’s pricing strategy […] promoting efficiency of inventory” (Das,Debnath et al., 2010)


Das, V. Debnath, N. Stephen, J et al. (2010) Information Processing and Management Communications in Computer and Information Science. doi: 978.3.642.12213.2

Kalman, H. Kemp, J. Morrison, G. Ross, S (2011) Designing Effective Instruction. doi: 978.0.470.52282.0

Salter, K. (2013) The Rise of the Coffee Pod Machines The Guardian. Retrieved from

Sweller, J. (2006) Cognitive Load Theory. Online Learning Laboratory. Retrieved from


Q2) To reduce Cognitive Load we can apply a design technique called Chunking, this involves grouping information into meaningful and easy-to-process chunks.”the chunks need to represent something meaningful […] we intend chunking to help the leaner build and add to the schema” (Bozarth, 2010) this can be applied to both information, instructions and designs. Chunking in Designs involves the meaningful use of white space and informative images to help support the material, Therefore reduces the unnecessary clutter that could confuse consumers. It is said that the ‘chunks’ should be to a value of 7, give or take 2. Meaning chunks between 5 and 9 is the maximum amount the working memory can understand before confusion sets in. “When multiple elements of information are ‘chunked’ as single elements, there is more working capacity available for solving problems” (Malamed, 2012) An example of chunking is learning to drive a car, there are important chronological steps to take and these can be simplified in order to be understood. In design, chunking can be assigning meaning to objects “ascribing meaning to symbols […] to replace large amounts of environmental data with a reduced number of visual units” (Motloch, 2001) Using graphs, images, facial expressions and photographs in design can summarise what needs to be said in a paragraph in just one image. “For example, people can remember a list of 5 words for 30 seconds, but few can remember a list of 10 words for 30 seconds” (Lidwell, Holden, Butler, 2003)  Designs such as E-Learning applications, where the learner must memorise information, is ideal for chunking. Computer Interfaces and programmes need to be simplistic and informative.


Bozarth, J. (2010) Nuts and Bolts: Brain Bandwidth – Cognitive Load Theory and Instructional Design Learning Solutions Magazine Retrieved from—cognitive-load-theory-and-instructional-design

Lidwell, W. Holden, K. Butler, J. (2003) Perfomace Load Universal Principles of Design (pp. 40-41) Retrieved from

Malamed, C. (2012) What is Cognitive Load? The eLearning Coach Retrieved from

Motloch, J. (2001) Introduction to Landscape Design. doi: 0.471.35291.8

Q3) the use of psychology in design is very important as this helps the brain to understand theory and process information “People tend to organise visuals into groups, the whole is greater than the parts” (Taylor, 2013) By reading clear, concise, simple information this gives a psychological effect of understanding and rigidity allowing it to be understood in memory. “The brain self organises information in a manner that’s orderly” (Taylor, 2013) contrasting colours, the use of white, black and bold effects with simplistic information allows the brain to understand and process the meaning of information. “attention, memory and problem solving is affected by the absence of relevant stimulation” (Cherry, n.d) by chunking information along with relevant graphics it helps improve the “mental process of how people think, perceive,remember and learn” (Cherry, n.d)


Cherry, K. (n.d) What is Cognitive Psychology? Retrieved from

Taylor, A. (2013) The Psychology of Design Explained Digital Arts Retrieved from


Windows Homescreen – Cognitive Loading

Automatic Gearbox – Cognitive Loading

Ikea Flat Pack – Kinetic Loading

these 3 everyday items represent Cognitive Loading and Kinetic Loading in design. the Windows Homescreen represents Cognitive Loading, as it has a simple user interface, with the well-recognised start menu button, the trash can and desktop icons. The familiarity of these means we do not need to exert strenuous thinking to understand how to interact with this interface. Each element has been ‘chunked’ and each has its associated schemas that we all understand well. The Automatic Gearbox represents both Cognitive and Kinetic loading, its Cognitive load has minimal amount of mental activity when compared to a manual gearbox, there is no manual gear changes and therefore a smaller memory capacity is needed to operate it. Its Kinetic loading has minimal degree of physical activity to change gears and fewer number of steps to operate. The IKEA flat pack furniture is an example of Kinetic Loading. This has a high degree of physical activity and requires manual labour to assemble furniture with tools. IKEA have chosen to increase the Kinetic Loading in favour of lowering their prices and convenient shopping and transporting.


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