The aim of this study was to develop an animation-based curriculum and to evaluate the effectiveness of animation-based instruction; the report involved the assessment of prior knowledge and the appropriate feedback approach, for the purpose of reducing perceived cognitive load and improving learning. The curriculum was comprised of five subunits designed to teach the 'Principles of Earthquakes.' Each subunit consisted of three modules: evaluation of prior knowledge with/without in-time feedback; animation-based instruction; and evaluation of learning outcomes with feedback. The 153 participants consisted of 10th grade high-school students. Seventy-eight students participated in the animation-based instruction, involving assessment of prior knowledge and appropriate feedback mechanism (APA group). A total of 75 students participated in animation-based learning that did not take into account their prior knowledge (ANPA group). The effectiveness of the instruction was then evaluated by using a Science Conception Test (SCT), a self-rating cognitive load questionnaire (CLQ), as well as a structured interview. The results indicated that: (1) Students' perceived cognitive load was reduced effectively through improving their prior knowledge by providing appropriate feedback. (2) When students perceived lower levels of cognitive load, they showed better learning outcome. The result of this study revealed that students of the APA group showed better performance than those of the ANPA group in an open-ended question. Furthermore, students' perceived cognitive load was negatively associated with their learning outcomes.
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