The Impact of Cognitive Load on Students’ Academic Writing: An Authorship Verification Investigation


  • Eduardo Oliveira University of Melbourne
  • Paula de Barba University of Melbourne



academic integrity, authorship verification, writing analytics, learning analytics, stylometry, cognitive load


Automatic authorship verification is known to be a challenging machine learning task. In this paper, we examine the efficacy of an enhanced common n-gram profile-based approach to assist educational institutions to validate students' essays and assignments through their writing styles. We investigated the impact that essays with different cognitive load requirements have in students' writing styles, which may or may not impact authorship verification methods. A total of 46 undergraduate students completed six essays in a laboratory study. Although results showed small and mixed effects of the tasks differing in cognitive load on the different writing product metrics, students' essays and assignments texts contained features that remained stable across essays requiring different levels of cognitive load. These results suggest that our approach could be successfully used in authorship verification, potentially helping to address issues related to academic integrity in higher education settings.