Cognitive Load Theory

Thursday 26th September 2019

#UKEdChat session 472 – Are your classroom walls and displays beautifully decorated with prompts, aids, and children’s work? Does your school or department insist that you have displays showing the current topic and learning to showcase for parents or inspectors? Are your powerpoints filled with quirky images, animations or too much information?

Considered by John Sweller, the Cognitive Load Theory explores how distractions in the classroom – not relevant to the immediate learning – can negatively impact on learning, with distractions offering an overload of information. In other words, clear classrooms offer less distraction whilst learning is taking place, as any additional information within the environment can impact on the cognitive process of individuals.

Additionally, the CLT is based on the types of information held in working memory at any one time, known as intrinsic load, extraneous load and germane load. Together, these loads make up the capacity of the working memory. Cognitive overload occurs when the capacity of the working memory is exceeded. Once this happens, we are unlikely to be able to transfer the new information into our long-term memory. In essence, we learn very little.

To learn more about CLT visit the UKEd Wiki website by clicking here.

In this #UKEdChat session, explored the why’s, what’s and how’s of Cognitive Load Theory, and the impact it can have on learning within your school, department or classroom environment.

The questions asked were:

  1. What is your understanding of Cognitive Load Theory (CLT)?
  2. Is CLT a consideration in your classroom, department or school when considering displays and potential distractions?
  3. How much expectation is there to ensure that your walls and classroom are decorated with work and/or resources?
  4. When an educational theory is advocated by educationalists or school-leaders, how much time should teachers be given to disseminate the research and prepare any changes to practice?
  5. How can you impact minimising classroom distractions to support CLT?
  6. How can teachers plan content to deliver to students to ensure that they are not overloaded with all the information required?
  7. How important is scaffolding within your classroom, and what examples can you share where it has been effectively used?
  8. How much credence do you give towards CLT, and how could it further inform your classroom practice?

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About @digicoled 291 Articles
Colin Hill - Founder, researcher and editor of ukedchat. Also a bit of a tech geek! Project management, design thinking, and metacognition.

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