van Merriënboer, Jeroen

Van Merrienboer


Program director of Research in Education, Department of Educational Development and Research, School of Health Professions Education, Maastricht University.

Former Positions–

1998-2009–Full professor of Educational Technology and Scientific Director, Open University of the Netherlands

1997-1998–Associate professor of Educational Psychology, University of Maastricht

1991-1997–Associate professor of Instructional Technology, University of Twente


Doctor’s degree, Cum Laude, in instructional technology–University of Twente, Enschede

drs degree in experimental psychology–Free University of Amsterdam

Honors Include–

1999–Outstanding Book-of-the-Year Award For the book Van Merriënboer, J. (1997). Training complex cognitive skills. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.

Dr. van Merriënboer began his research career in the 1980s in the educational and IDD field. For his PhD project, he developed the “completion strategy,” an instructional approach in which learners begin with worked-out example computer programs, then work their way into larger and larger, more complex but incomplete programs. The final step is that they are able to design and write programs on their own.

van Merriënboer’s 4C/ID Model came from this work. 4C/ID is an instructional design model which looks at four interrelated components—1) learning tasks, 2) supportive information, 3) procedural information, and 4) part-task practice. 4C/ID is now taught in many instructional design programs around the world.

More recently, van Merriënboer has partnered with John Sweller to research learning task design. Together, they have developed a new version of the Cognitive Load Theory focusing on the cognitive load processes directly tied to learning. van Merriënboer has also been researching how design processes can be improved through computers as well as researching learning processes that occur in distance education or online learning environments.

Suggested Readings–


Van Merriënboer, J. J. G., & Kirschner, P. A. (2007). Ten steps to complex learning. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum. (website)

Van Merriënboer, J. J. G. (1997). Training complex cognitive skills: A four-component instructional design model for technical training. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.


Van Merriënboer, J. J. G., & Sluijsmans, D. A. (2009). Towards a synthesis of cognitive load theory, four-component instructional design, and self-directed learning. Educational Psychology Review, 21, 55-66.

Van Merriënboer, J. J. G., Kester, L., & Paas, F. (2006). Teaching complex rather than simple tasks: Balancing intrinsic and germane load to enhance transfer of learning. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 20, 343-352.

Van Merriënboer, J. J. G., & Sweller, J. (2005). Cognitive load theory and complex learning: Recent developments and future directions. Educational Psychology Review, 17, 147-177.

Van Merriënboer, J. J. G., Kirschner, P. A., & Kester, L. (2003). Taking the load of a learners’ mind: Instructional design for complex learning. Educational Psychologist, 38(1), 5-13.

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