Performance load refers to how much mental and physical effort is required to achieve a task. More difficult tasks have a higher rate of errors, and take longer to complete, with the chance of success decreasing with the level of difficulty and vice versa. There are two types of performance load: cognitive load and kinematic load.
Cognitive load is how much mental activity is required to complete a task, via perception, memory and problem-solving. Cognitive load can be reduced by ‘chunking’ information, using memory aids, and automating task. For example, in the classroom, “a well-run, interesting lesson based on explicit instruction is almost invariably going to result in better learner outcomes than a chaotic, poorly designed inquiry-based lesson” (Sweller, Ayres, Kalyuga, & Ebook, 2011, p. 229). Or in web design, “users can be fatigued by overly complex, annoying sites” (Dawson, 2011, p. 170).
Kinematic load “represents the amount of physical activity required … to complete a job” (Concepts, 2016). Morse code is an example of simplifying the physical demands of a task.
Designers should “apply sound instructional design principles based on our knowledge of the brain and memory” (Learning-Theories, 2016), and eliminate unnecessary information, chunk important information, provide memory aids and reduce steps in order to reduce performance load.
Concepts, D. O. (2016). Designing Your Office to Reduce Your Work Load Through Cognitive Science. 90 Degree Office Concepts. Retrieved from http://90degreeofficeconcepts.com/component/k2/item/102-designing-your-office-to-reduce-your-work-load-through-cognitive-science
Dawson, A. (2011). Distinctive Design: A Practical Guide to a Findable, Useful, Beautiful Web: Wiley.
Learning-Theories. (2016). Cognitive Load Theory of Multimedia Learning (Sweller). Learning-Theories.com knowledge base and webliography. Retrieved from http://www.learning-theories.com/cognitive-load-theory-of-multimedia-learning-sweller.html
Sweller, J., Ayres, P. L., Kalyuga, S., & Ebook, L. (2011). Cognitive load theory (Vol. 1). New York: Springer.