The author begins with a quote (originally tweeted in 2017) that was the impetus for his investigation of Cognitive Load Theory:
I’ve come to the conclusion Sweller’s Cognitive Load Theory is the single most important thing for teachers to know - Dylan Wiliam
Lovell’s deep dive into the literature and theory led to this book, which begins with providing an understanding of the five key principles of CLT, followed by practical application and strategies.
Lovell explains the five principles that underpin CLT in terms of A, B, C, D and E:
These five principles can help instructional designers consider intrinsic load (the core learning that should occupy students’ working memory) while they seek to reduce extraneous load (associated with the manner and structure of instruction).
While the author says that the theory section can be skipped I believe it is an essential review. This section is, perhaps, one of the clearest descriptions of the role of working memory I have encountered. The author explains the ways in which an understanding of cognitive load can help to increase the efficiency of working memory. Included in this description are specific descriptions of intrinsic load and extraneous load. Academic leaders should not skip this section!
To manage cognitive load in the classroom, teachers and instructional designers should look for ways to reduce the extraneous cognitive load using elements of design and structure, while optimizing the intrinsic load using a variety of solid instructional strategies. The book includes bolded key terms and text boxes, allowing for quick access, review, and application of strategies, such as pre-teaching and segmentation, to a detailed description of the modality effect to expand working memory capacity. The strategies included apply equally to those planning for a classroom of students or a conference room of professionals. Reading this work can not only help us be better teachers and leaders, but can also offer insights to help the readers better understand themselves as learners.
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Brad Rathgeber (he/him/his)