Cognitive Learning tells us to clean up our ‘Explicit Instruction Act’
You may already be familiar with the three inner dimensions of the brain’s working memory; the intrinsic load, the extraneous load, and the germane load. Out of all of them, the extraneous load appears to be the simplest one to ‘get right’. It is to do with the instructional design of the learning episode, i.e. what you as teacher choose to present to learners. In that sense, you have more control over it than the actual content/nature/subject of the ‘curriculum moment’ and the wiring already present in the learner’s brain as they walk through the door. Generally, the extraneous load is thought of in terms of the medium you use to present your teacher input.
The most basic message is ‘don’t provide busy PowerPoint slides’, but the overarching CLT truth is that anything that occupies the brain’s working memory (that is not an integral part of the teaching/learning process) is taking away precious focus. If we look particularly at explicit instruction for primary school mathematics we see that there are more extraneous load factors to consider than just busy slides and making sure the window cleaner doesn’t suddenly appear just as the kids are hanging on your every word and are about to ‘get it’!Continue reading