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Call for Submissions & Reviewers: From Chaos to Order: Addressing Cognitive Overload in the Learning Journey (Rowman & Littlefield)

  • 1.  Call for Submissions & Reviewers: From Chaos to Order: Addressing Cognitive Overload in the Learning Journey (Rowman & Littlefield)

    Posted Aug 28, 2023 09:24 AM

    Title of edited manuscript: From Chaos to Order: Addressing Cognitive Overload in the Learning Journey (Rowman & Littlefield)

    Edited by: Courtney McAllister (she/her), Solution Architect, Atypon; C. Elliott (she/they), Reference and Instruction Librarian, UMass Boston; and Sara C. Kern (she/her), Engineering Librarian, Pennsylvania State University

    Please send questions to:

    Link to proposal form: 

    Proposal submission deadline: November 1, 2023

    Rubric we'll use to evaluate proposals:

    Call for anonymized peer-reviewers  

    Book description: Multiple deadlines, competing responsibilities, an endless barrage of information, and constant stress: these situations may seem uncomfortably familiar, but they are becoming increasingly intense for 21st century learners. Even well-established needs, like finding and accessing relevant, credible information, continue to take up more and more cognitive energy in this ever-changing information landscape. Cognitive load refers to the amount of information an individual is able to retain in their working memory at one time (Sweller, 1988). When cognitive load is surpassed, it can be much more difficult to process, encode, and retain new information (Paas and Ayres, 2014). 

    Library practitioners may take cognitive load into consideration when creating resources like LibGuides, designing  instruction sessions, or planning programming. Yet cognitive load cannot be addressed through isolated efforts; it cuts across departmental boundaries and organizational silos. While addressing cognitive load in one aspect of library services can reduce its impact on learners, we believe that a collaborative effort across aspects of information services is necessary to holistically support the learning journey. Cognitive overload is not a phenomenon that is limited to academia, and strategies to reduce it shouldn't be either. To reflect the multifaceted nature of cognitive overload and its impact, this edited book will be divided into three distinct sections: Information literacy instruction, research tools and systems, and outreach and partnerships.


    Call for contributions:  All contributed works must incorporate cognitive load theory, but we welcome contributions from those not formally trained in it. If you think you're doing work that addresses cognitive load but you're not sure, this video may help you understand cognitive load theory:

    The foundation of this project is rooted in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility. It is our hope that this work acknowledges and redresses some of the asymmetry in academic publishing by intentionally incorporating a diverse range of voices and practitioners. We welcome submissions from:

    • Academic, public, and K-12 library practitioners

    • Course designers/instructors

    • Technologists/systems professionals 

    • Mentors/tutors

    • Anyone with a passion/background in information services

    All of the following formats are welcome: 

    • Theoretical or original research

    • Case studies

    • Outreach plans

    • Lesson plans

    • Zines

    • System designs, evaluation tools, etc. 

    If your contribution does not fit in the formats listed here, let us know! The editors are open to working with you. 

    Proposals that include any of the following prompts will be considered first, but this is not an exhaustive list.

    Teaching and Information Literacy and Cognitive Load Theory 

    Submissions referencing motivational design theory is preferred (but not necessary). This section focuses on instructional opportunities within the context of research including: lesson plans, teaching tools and applications, synchronous/asynchronous teaching opportunities, and other formats.

    • Translating existing information-seeking skills to research goals and/or academia

    • Lessons and programs addressing the stresses of historically underrepresented groups

    • Tools and programs addressing cognitive overload exacerbated by ongoing effects of COVID

    • Working memory and/or information overload

    • Effects of social overload in the classroom or on research tasks

    • Case studies of library instruction collaboration with other departments/groups

    • Integrating AI into instructional design/curriculum/course resources

    Research Tools and Systems and Cognitive Load Theory 

    Examples of research tools and systems: library discovery layers, chat services, tutorials or interactive modules focused on some aspect of information literacy/research success, any other technology tool that helps students/researchers find and evaluate information. Local or "homegrown" technologies are welcome!

    • Reducing technostress and keeping learners from reaching cognitive overload

    • The impact of research systems/ tools on your Information Literacy curriculum (and vice versa)

    • New trends and developments in UX (User Experience) or system design that impact your users

    • The role of  accessibility in your selection and use of research support technologies

    • Lingering pandemic-related effects on your community's technology literacy skills

    • Creative or innovative technology solutions you've developed or used

    • Impact of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning on your students' technology literacy skills

    • The Digital Divide and other structural factors that influence user engagement with technology

    • Needs you see being underserved by current system offerings 

    Informal Learning, Outreach, Partnerships, and Cognitive Load Theory 

    This section focuses on out-of-classroom events, partnerships, or activities that provide learners with important knowledge and skill-building in a lower-stress and (sometimes) fun setting.

    • Collaborative or independent programs or partnerships designed for skill building or support

    • Targeted initiatives for historically underrepresented groups

    • Designing informal learning opportunities

    • Guide to partnering with community or campus support organizations

    • Designing accessible programming

    • Online and/or asynchronous programming

    • Social overload in the community or campus

    • Managing your own cognitive load while organizing large scale or controversial programming

    Tentative Publication Schedule 

    1. Proposals close: November 1, 2023

    2. Notification of Acceptance due: December 15, 2023

    3. First drafts due: March 1, 2024


    Paas, Fred, and Paul Ayres. "Cognitive Load Theory: A Broader View on the Role of Memory in Learning and Education." Educational Psychology Review 26, no. 2 (June 1, 2014): 191–95. 

    Sweller, John. "Cognitive Load During Problem Solving: Effects on Learning." Cognitive Science 12, no. 2 (1988): 257–85.

    C. Elliott
    Reference and Instruction Librarian
    University of Massachusetts, Boston