Finger pointing to self-manage cognitive load in learning from split-attention examples

Shirong Zhang*, Bjorn B. de Koning, Fred Paas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


We investigated whether finger pointing can be used as a cognitive load self-management strategy when learning from split-attention examples. We expected that pointing would reduce cognitive load and enhance learning performance. In a guided self-management phase, 122 university students studied a split-attention example under three pointing conditions (i.e., no pointing, one-handed pointing, two-handed pointing) or an integrated example without pointing. In the subsequent unguided self-management phase, all students studied a new split-attention example without pointing instructions. Results on retention and comprehension tests and self-ratings of cognitive load after studying each split-attention example revealed no differences between conditions. An exploratory analysis of pointing movements in the unguided self-management phase revealed that participants who frequently pointed outperformed those who barely pointed on the comprehension test in this phase. Our findings provide some suggestive evidence for the effectiveness of pointing as a self-management strategy in the learning from split-attention examples.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)767-779
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Cognitive Psychology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
China Scholarship Council, Grant/Award Number: 201706360140 Funding information

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Applied Cognitive Psychology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


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