Minimization of students’ cognitive load in a virtual chemistry laboratory via contents optimization and arrow-textual aids

Numan Ali*, Sehat Ullah, Dawar Khan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Virtual Chemistry Laboratories (VCLs) are used as an alternative to the physical laboratories, where users can enhance their performance for hands-on chemistry experiments. However, cognitive load and other issues make the VCLs impractical. The issue of cognitive load arises due to the complexity of the environment by displaying a number of chemicals, glass wares, and other lab equipments in the VCL. In this paper, we first investigate the field experts about the practical use of the VCLs and then propose a Purpose-built Virtual Chemistry Laboratory (PbVCL) with arrow textual aids to minimize the cognitive load and improve the learning efficiency. PbVCL displays only specific chemicals and glass wares, used in the current experiment while hiding other equipments. Students simulate their chemistry experiments with the help of arrow-textual aids (i.e., textual and an arrow guidance). Users complete the experimental tasks in the PbVCL following the arrow-textual aids. During evaluations, seventy-six (76) students perform the experiments in four different groups using four different experimental conditions. Evaluations revealed that the proposed PbVCL with arrow-textual aids improve students’ performance on the basis of various aspects such as time and errors while conducting experiment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7629-7652
Number of pages24
JournalEducation and Information Technologies
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We are thankful for the comments of the anonymous reviewers. D. Khan was supported in part by NSFC (No.62150410433), Shenzhen Basic Research Program (JCYJ20180507182222355) and CAS-PIFI (No. 2020PT0013).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


  • Cognitive load
  • Computer-based Learning
  • Virtual chemistry laboratory
  • Virtual learning environment
  • Virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Library and Information Sciences


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