Blog Archive

Monday 19 November 2018

Memory Recall - Cognitive Load Theory.

If you recall (!!) Dylan Williams tweeted that 'Weller's Cognitive Load Theory' was the single most important theory that all teachers should know. 

During the CSET Conference sessions at the end of Term 1, a session was delivered that explored the complexities of this theory - notably what techniques we need to consider employing with our own students to ensure that knowledge that is committed to their long-term memory is routinely recalled into their working memories. Sweller outlines three types of load that we put on our brains:

1. Intrinsic cognitive load, which is basically how hard the work is to understand.
2. Extrinsic cognitive load, which considers how the information is presented: what does your PowerPoint look like? How many sheets of paper are you asking students to look at? What other distractions are there in the classroom environment?
3. Germanic cognitive load - this is the ‘thinking’ involved in the learning. Essentially we want students thinking about the LEARNING, not the task. 

So as teachers our aim needs to be to adapt the tasks to manage the difficulties of the task. Manage the intrinsic load, minimise the extrinsic and maximise the germanic. Highest impact tasks include:
1. Lagged homework's - or known as spaced practice is the concept of encouraging students to recall knowledge from previous learning with a time delay between learning in class and the completion of homework tasks.
2. Distributed Practice - when learning is broken up into a number of smaller sessions over a longer period of time.
3. Retrieval Practice - practice bringing knowledge from long-term memory into working memory with frequent low stake quizzes.

Linda Ferris has very kindly sent all colleagues through a link to a followup guide on the use of the theory. Please find the link below, also accessible via GoogleClassrooms.

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