You are here:

Collaboration Modality, Cognitive Load, and Science Inquiry Learning in Virtual Inquiry Environments

, ,

Educational Technology Research and Development Volume 58, Number 6, ISSN 1042-1629


Educational multi-user virtual environments (MUVEs) have been shown to be effective platforms for situated science inquiry curricula. While researchers find MUVEs to be supportive of collaborative scientific inquiry processes, the complex mix of multi-modal messages present in MUVEs can lead to cognitive overload, with learners unable to effectively process the rich information encountered in virtual space. In this study, we investigated the effect of communication modality on cognitive load and science inquiry learning in students completing a science inquiry curriculum in an educational MUVE. Seventy-eight undergraduate education majors from a large southwestern university participated in this control-treatment study. Significant positive results were found for reducing cognitive load for participants communicating through voice-based chat, although this reduction was not found to influence learning outcomes. We conclude that use of voice-based communication can successfully reduce cognitive load in MUVE-based inquiry curricula. (Contains 4 tables and 3 figures.)


Erlandson, B.E., Nelson, B.C. & Savenye, W.C. (2010). Collaboration Modality, Cognitive Load, and Science Inquiry Learning in Virtual Inquiry Environments. Educational Technology Research and Development, 58(6), 693-710. Retrieved September 23, 2019 from .

This record was imported from ERIC on April 19, 2013. [Original Record]

ERIC is sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education.

Copyright for this record is held by the content creator. For more details see ERIC's copyright policy.


Cited By

View References & Citations Map

These links are based on references which have been extracted automatically and may have some errors. If you see a mistake, please contact