Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


STEM Education & Professional Studies


Instructional Design & Technology

Committee Director

Gary R. Morrison

Committee Member

Ginger S. Watson

Committee Member

Cherng-Jyh Yen


Flying an aircraft requires processing or considering great number of inputs and an ability to link these data to a massive amount of information in order to interpret them. As a result, flight training imposes a high intrinsic cognitive load. The focus of this research was to investigate the effect of decreasing intrinsic cognitive load for complex tasks such as flight training that involves both cognitive and psychomotor tasks. Participants ( n = 38) completed an instruction unit on how to conduct a simulated Ground Controlled Approach (GCA) and were asked to report perceived cognitive load in addition to tests on achievement of simulator performance flight and procedural knowledge. Depending on the treatment, participants studied instruction either (a) by separating cognitive and psychomotor elements via telling-and-doing method or (b) by isolating interactions between task elements via isolated elements method.

The findings of this study demonstrated that separating cognitive task elements from psychomotor task elements did not yield lower cognitive load than learning task elements in isolation, but more important, the separation of cognitive and psychomotor task elements did not overwhelm the learners' working memory. In addition, the findings of this study supported previous research stating that there was a challenge in integrating task elements as they studied far from their original context.

However, despite the higher cognitive load, participants in telling-and-doing method outperformed the isolated elements group in terms of learning procedural knowledge. The telling-and-doing method was more effective in learning complex flying skills as it allowed the learner to keep the task as close as to whole task without exceeding working memory capacity. Furthermore, the telling-and-doing method was found better in supporting learners to develop optimal flying strategies.


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