Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Informed parent advocates are essential to planning the educational outcomes of their children with special needs in the K through 12 public school system. However, inappropriate instructional techniques used in advocacy training may reduce trainees' learning outcomes by adding complexity and increasing cognitive load. This study examined whether using worked examples to break down complex problems into component parts to build long term schema could lower cognitive load and thus improve learning outcomes for parent advocacy trainees. Based on cognitive load theory, this 2 x 3 factorial design study examined the efficacy of noninteractive video lessons for parent trainees using worked examples to reduce extraneous cognitive load. Research questions explored the relationships between the independent variables of using worked examples and parents' perceived class relevance on the dependent variable, change in cognitive load of parent trainees, as well as the interaction between training type and perceived class relevance. Two groups of 65 adults in advocacy training (N = 130) participated in a video lesson in either the worked examples or nonworked examples format as part of their advocacy training. The NASA Task Load Index and the Perceived Class Relevance Survey instruments were used to measure cognitive load of trainees and perceptions of training relevance. Key findings included a significant main effect between the use of worked examples and change in cognitive load and significant interaction effects with the perception of class relevance. Training was developed for advocacy trainers in the use of worked examples for learners new to a domain. Implications for social change include improved learning outcomes for parents who must learn IEP terminology in beginning classes to effectively advocate for their children.