Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Learning and Instruction


Learning & Instruction EdD

First Advisor

Mathew Mitchell

Second Advisor

Xornam Apedoe

Third Advisor

Susan Prion


Information literacy is a complex knowledge domain. Cognitive processing theory describes the effects an instructional subject and the learning environment have on working memory. Essential processing is one component of cognitive processing theory that explains the inherent complexity of knowledge domains such as information literacy. Prior research involving cognitive processing relied heavily on instructional subjects from the areas of math, science and technology. For this study, the instructional subject of information literacy was situated within the literature describing ill-defined problems using modular worked-out examples instructional design techniques. The purpose of this study was to build on the limited research into cognitive processing, ill-defined problems and modular worked-out examples by examining the use of a multimedia audiobook as an instructional technique to manage the cognitive processing occurring during information literacy instruction. Two experiments were conducted using convenience samples of doctoral nursing students (Experiment 1, n = 38) and undergraduate nursing students (Experiment 2, n = 80). Students in Experiment 1 completed a pretest, were exposed to a brief eight-minute and sixteen-second (8:16) multimedia audiobook instructional session, and then completed a posttest. The pretest and posttest consisted of one ill-defined problem presented as an essay-style question, and eleven multiple-choice questions. Experiment 2 built upon Experiment 1 through the addition of three questions measuring extraneous processing, generative processing and essential processing. Experiment 1 results indicated a large Cohen's effect size for the multiple-choice set of questions (d = 1.08) and a medium effect size for the essay-style, ill-defined problem (d = 0.73). Experiment 2, results indicated a medium effect size for the multiple-choice set of questions (d = 0.55) and a medium effect size for the essay-style, ill-defined problem (d = 0.67). With respect to Experiment 2, there were statistically significant differences between generative processing and extraneous processing, t(79) = 6.84, p < .001 and between essential processing and extraneous processing was t(79) = 4.37, p < .001. There was no statistically significant difference between essential processing and generative processing was t(79) = 1.69, p = .09.