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May 5, 2008

Instructional Design: One Quick Tip

I’ve received many comments about how easy the SharePoint Shepherd’s Guide for End Users is to use.  I was just editing some other material and I realized one of the reasons why.  It’s automatic for me but apparently not for everyone.
When doing step-by-step instructions you basically have two options for how to structure the step:
1) Select Option A in Field B
2) In Field B, select Option A
Any idea which one’s easier to read?  The second one.  Because you’re not forcing them to remember the value while locating the field.  It reduces what is called cognitive load.  In short, you’re requiring less brain power to be able to follow the steps.
If you’re thinking that it only applies to end user materials … um, no.  The less brain power consumed actually trying to follow the steps the more mental resources there are to be able to reach higher levels of understanding (see Bloom’s Taxonomy/Taxonomy of Educational Objectives)
The next time you’re putting together step-by-step instructions you may want to think about how you structure the steps.

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