Potential Actions

After reviewing cognitive load theory, reading a few articles, and a bit of thinking about my classroom practices, I’ve developed the following list of behaviors to work towards when conducting lessons.  I am considering developing measurement tools for these routines.  However, intuition says do not proscribe it too much.  So, I am going to try it less formally and see how it goes.


  • Make a list of checks to see that students working memory is not taxed.Mentally go through it before every lesson.
    • Music is off
    • Laptops are closed
    • Breathe three times
    • Use audio and video and check that neither are redundant.
  • Look at overall task and break it down into simple steps
  • Change problem solving methods to avoid means-ends approaches that impose a heavy working memory load, by using goal-free problems or worked examples.
    • For example, showing students one aspect of painting at a time, reviewing only one assignment a class
  • Mentally review what you will say to students at the beginning of the class to keep it short and direct.
    • This means do not go off on tangents. Speak like Hemmingway
  • Give thought to big concepts and skills that are universal as well as tasks and techniques, break these into smaller components.
    • This requires planning and in my experience is a multi-year process. We rarely have time to do this much thinking and planning given the amount of meetings, and duties, and of course classes and assessment.  So, keep in mind that this will need to be continuously refined and stop getting stressed out by either the amount of work or whether it is perfect.  Treat it like art, you never complete you just keep working on it.
  • Show Students final goal and allow them to self-assess against their progress.
    • Again, more planning – See above.
  • Develop a series of self-assessment tasks throughout the term.
    • This can be done more informally. In fact, I do it , but it is unorganized and sporadic. Develop one method and test it out.
  • Examine tasks that students will need to perform and divide them into levels of difficulty.
  • Peer assessment opportunities.