Learning Portfolio 3- Question 2: Chunking

Q2) The authors mentioned a design technique of “chunking” information to reduce cognitive load. Define and describe the chunking technique in relation to design and visual communication.

Our cognitive load is reduced when we aren’t trying to memorize a huge chunk of information—especially in a short amount of time. A relative to this is the phrase, “chunking”, such as splitting a checklist into different categories. Another example would be Chinese or Japanese students learning kanji, which from experience, is no easy task. By memorising the specific stroke order, it reduces our cognitive load and thus we are breaking it down into units of information. Simply put, chunking is a technique we use that splits numerous pieces of information into smaller sets of pieces, thus making the information easier to remember (Lidwell, Holden & Butler, 2003).

an image example of chunking (Malamed, n.d.).
an image example of chunking (Malamed, n.d.).

Designers tend to involve chunking into their work because it simplifies their designs, in which minimises performance load as much as possible. By removing unnecessary information, kinematic load is greatly reduced. Upon designing course work for a potential learner, the designer must keep in mind that if all the information is presented in one chunk, the learner will find it hard to process the information—by layering it out into chunks, it’s easier to read and process. Think of chunking as splitting information into “Bite-sized pieces.” (Malamed, n.d.).

Designers work hard to take out all the unnecessary information, as it just adds confusion and makes it harder to memorise and chunk, thus chunking only the information that people need in order to recall or retain, and divide the information into 4 units.

A good quote for chunking is “Less is more”.


References:

Lidwell, W., Holden, K., & Butler, J. (2003). Performance Load. In Universal Principles of Design (pp. 40). Massachusetts: Rockport.

Malamed, C. Chunking example. Retrieved from http://theelearningcoach.com/elearning_design/chunking-information/

Malamed, C. Chunking Information for Instructional Design. The elearning coach. Retrieved from http://theelearningcoach.com/elearning_design/chunking-information/

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