Quick Read: Cognitive Load Theory

12 September 2019

As you know, busy teachers don’t always have the time to access, read, and assimilate pedagogy research into evidence-based practices, let alone begin to implement these practices in their classrooms. Since at the National Centre for Computing Education, we are committed to supporting you to develop your pedagogical content knowledge around computing, we’re developing a series of bite-sized Pedagogy Quick Reads. These short documents aim to quickly connect you with key ideas from research and highlight implications for your computing education practice.

This month we’re proud to share with you the first Pedagogy Quick Read, which highlights the importance of considering the cognitive load that learners encounter when we design lessons, slides, and other supporting material. Cognitive Load Theory is fairly well established and widely understood, and in this Quick Read we present a summary of the theory alongside some key implications for teaching computing.

Download this Pedagogy Quick Read

The first-ever Pedagogy Quick Read:

  • Includes an overview of cognitive architecture, in particular the relationship between working memory and long-term memory
  • Outlines the concepts of intrinsic and extraneous cognitive load and how they impact on a learner’s ability to engage with a learning activity
  • Highlights some of the observable effects from research that can work to either exacerbate or mitigate cognitive load, and what these mean in the context of a computing lesson

Our Pedagogy Quick Read series will continue monthly, with our next few Quick Reads highlighting some key strategies that can help mitigate cognitive load, such as worked examples and pair programming.