The Influence of Backchannel Communication on Cognitive Load

  • Jennifer A. Maddrell
  • Ginger S. Watson


Synchronous online conferencing systems not only expand opportunities for real-time interaction but also foster parallel channels of communication. Visual and audio channels facilitate instructional presentation in the main channel of communication while text-chat features support participants’ backchannel exchanges. Within the context of cognitive load theory and research, this chapter considers whether backchannel communication helps to manage intrinsic load and optimize germane load through improved facilitation of computer-mediated discourse or whether the backchannel poses a distraction that unnecessarily increases extraneous cognitive load.


Cognitive Load Social Presence Cognitive Load Theory Extraneous Cognitive Load Extraneous Load 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer A. Maddrell
    • 1
  • Ginger S. Watson
    • 1
  1. 1.Darden College of Education, Old Dominion UniversityNorfolkUSA

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