There are 7 key strands to the science of learning.
7 key things:
- Spaced learning
- Retrieval Practice
- Cognitive load
- Working with schemas
- Multimedia learning
- Embodied learning
Spaced learning is a learning method that involves repeating the same material over spaced intervals of time, rather than studying it all at once. Spaced learning is based on the principle that material is more easily learned and remembered when it is broken apart by intervals of time. Spaced learning helps learners avoid cognitive overload and strengthen their memory by allowing them to forget and relearn the material. Spaced learning also helps learners make connections between the material and their prior knowledge, and transfer their learning to new contexts or situations. Spaced learning can take various forms, such as quizzes, summaries, recall, or application of key concepts or skills. Spaced learning can be implemented in different settings, such as classrooms, online courses, or self-directed learning.
Interleaving is a learning method that involves sequencing learning tasks so that similar items are mixed with slightly different types of items instead of being grouped together. Interleaving helps learners to compare and contrast different items and to identify their unique features and relationships. Interleaving also helps learners to enhance their memory and transfer their learning to new situations by making them switch their attention and retrieve information from different categories. Interleaving can be applied in various domains, such as language learning, history, physics, music, and sports. Interleaving can improve retention, acquisition, and performance of new information and skills, but it is not always the best option, and its effectiveness depends on the nature of the material and the level of the learners.
Retrieval practice is a learning method that involves asking students to recall what they have learned, often through low-stakes testing, so that it becomes deeply embedded and easier to remember. Retrieval practice helps students to strengthen their memory and understanding of the curriculum content, and to identify and correct any gaps or misconceptions. Retrieval practice can also help students to make connections between different topics and to transfer their learning to new situations. Retrieval practice can be implemented in various ways, such as quizzes, summaries, discussions, or games. At Salisbury Manor Primary, we use retrieval practice regularly and systematically throughout the year, to help our students achieve their learning objectives and prepare for their assessments. We also use retrieval practice as a form of feedback, to inform our instruction and intervention processes. We aim to make retrieval practice a positive and engaging experience for our students, by providing them with clear expectations, success criteria, and support.
Cognitive load refers to the amount of mental effort that is required to process information in working memory. Working memory is the part of our memory system that holds and manipulates information for a short period of time, usually a few seconds. Working memory has a limited capacity, which means that it can only handle a small amount of information at a time. Sweller, a cognitive psychologist, argued that instructional methods should avoid overloading working memory with unnecessary or irrelevant activities that do not directly contribute to learning. Instead, instructional methods should aim to reduce cognitive load and optimize working memory resources for meaningful learning.
Working with schemas
Schemas are mental structures that organize and store information in our long-term memory. They help us make sense of new experiences by connecting them to what we already know. Schemas can be modified or restructured when we encounter new or conflicting information that challenges our existing beliefs.
Schemas are important for both cognitive psychology and education, as they influence how we perceive, remember, and learn new things. Cognitive psychologists study how schemas are formed, activated, and changed in different situations and contexts. They also investigate how schemas affect our memory, attention, reasoning, problem-solving, and decision-making.
Educators use schema theory to design effective teaching and learning strategies that help students build and use schemas. They also help students to develop metacognitive skills that enable them to monitor and regulate their own learning processes. Some of the ways that educators can apply schema theory in the classroom are:
- Activating prior knowledge before introducing new topics or tasks
- Providing clear explanations and examples that link new information to existing schemas
- Using graphic organizers, diagrams, or maps to visualize and organize schemas
- Encouraging students to compare and contrast different schemas or perspectives
- Providing feedback and guidance that help students to revise and refine their schemas
- Using retrieval practice, spaced repetition, and interleaving to strengthen and consolidate schemas
- Fostering a growth mindset that promotes schema adaptation and expansion