WVU in the News: Reducing Medical Students’ Cognitive Load to Improve Surgical Simulation Learning

By Alan Thomay, MD and Alan Goodboy, Ph.D. Leave a Comment

During a medical simulation, novice students have limited available working memory resources to learn new information.1  In addition, different elements of simulation-based medical education additively place a strain on students’ working memory by increasing their cognitive load, which competes with the information they are trying to learn (e.g., listening to faculty presentations + doubt and self-consciousness about their own abilities + concentration necessary to effectively utilize fine motor skills + listening and incorporating direct feedback, etc).  The structure and complexity of the medical simulation adds to students’ intrinsic cognitive load; or in other words, there are certain concepts, topics, and learning elements that are inherently more difficult to learn (e.g., post-operative patient simulations can be particularly difficult for medical students because of the need to combine a multitude of skills within complex medical scenarios in a junior learner who has little to no experience with leadership or decision-making).

Read more of this article from the Association for Academic Surgery