Learning Portfolio Week 12

Question One

We all perform work tasks every day; however some require either more thinking, more physical exertion or more of both. The more we have to think or move subsequently means the more errors, and longer completion time of the task. There are two types of loads; cognitive and kinematic, the increase of decrease in either of these loads affects our performance.

The cognitive load is the effort associated with reasoning and thinking, including language perception, memory and problem solving. The process of industrialisation saw the invention of many new technologies, however these were basic and underdeveloped (in retrospect), and required, as Lidwell, W., Holden, K., & Butler, J. (2003) assert, a high cognitive load. The process of modernity resulted in new inventions (especially for computers) that reduced the cognitive load and reliance upon memory. Strategies for reducing cognitive load include the reduction of information and visual clamour, the use of memory and visual aids, weeding of information, and chunking important information.

Differing from brain function is body function, kinematic load is the amount of physical exertion required to complete a task. Many modern appliances reduce the kinematic load, and indeed many modern innovations have been born out of this idea of trying to reduce the physicality of a task. A Kinematic load can be reduced by simple measures such as reducing travel distance, and re-directing and reducing task methods.

There are many simple measures that can be taken to reduce unnecessary performance strain, and indeed with studies such as cognitive psychology our mental processes [1] may be re-defined. Being in an age of innovation it is up to individuals to question how far cognitive, but especially kinematic, loads can or should be reduced. 


Question Two

Chunking in Design

 Chunking refers to the effective communication of information between individuals. It is essentially re-organising information into groups or categories to efficiently maximise short term memory. Chunking reduces cognitive load information is pre-organised as usually the brain has to process the information and then organise and store it – chunking reduces this process.

The concept of chunking can be attributed to psychologist George A.  Miller. The Journal article “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two” was written by Miller around the mid 1950s. From his research Miller revealed the amount of numbers individuals could reliably remember  minutes after being told the number only one. The answer lies in his article title; ‘…Seven, Plus or Minus Two’. Miller stated that the memory span is a fixed number of sections (or chunks), and it was possible to “…increase the number of bits of information that it contains simply by building larger and larger chunks, each chunk containing more information than before…” [2]   

Millers groundbreaking discovery is the base from which stems all information organisation. Everyday things such as telephone numbers, menus, clothing stores, presentations etc, are chunks of information easily navigated, remembered and understood.


Question Three

Psychology in Design

 The study of psychology is a necessary step for design, though one which is often overlooked.

The way we function and receive visuals is scientific – a process – of which can enlighten designers regarding our human reactions to certain colours, symbols, smells, and sounds.

Many of the design elements and principles, within which designers work, were formed from a revelation or new found understanding of the human mind.  The theory of complementary colours was formed from research into the human eye and the way it processes colours. In turn psychology unveiled many symbolic and emotional meanings behind colours, of which now designers understand. Aesthetics is greatly significant in the success of a design; however the realisation of the true importance of aesthetics came about from psychological research that showed how an eye pleasing design had a greater chance of success as it looked more useable (Lidwell, Holden and Butler, 2003).

 Clearly psychology has greatly affected the very principles and practises of design – showing how further study into the subject can only be beneficial.


 Below are some examples of products that have a low perfomance load, thus minimizaing completion time and errors.


The humble doorbell is a good example of kinematic energy – or lack there of. The doorbell minimizes the amount of kinematic energy required.

TV remote

The remote also reduces kinematic energy, alowing individuals to change channels as it suits them with no effort.


The graphics calculator greatly reduces cognitive load as it stores informations and works mathematical equations.



Attorney Gordon S. Johnson, J. (2002). About Brain Injury:A Guide to Brain Anatomy, Function and Symptoms. Retrieved May 28, 2009, from Brain Function and Anatomy: http://www.waiting.com/brainfunction.html

[2] Miller, G. A. (1956). The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information. The Psychological Review , 81-97.

San Diego County Office of Education . (2006). Chunking Information. Retrieved May 26, 2009, from Supporting Differentiated Instruction: http://kms.sdcoe.net/differ/21-DSY/53-DSY.html

[1] Wagner, K. V. (2007). What is Cognitive Psychology? Retrieved May 27, 2009, from About.com: http://psychology.about.com/od/cognitivepsychology/f/cogpsych.htm


~ by 2gracie on June 2, 2009.

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