Our curriculum delivery is based on the findings of cognitive science.
Cognitive science seeks to understand learning, memory, and the brain.
Evidence so far is clear that cognitive science principles can have a real impact on rates of learning in the classroom. There is, therefore, value in teachers having a working knowledge of cognitive science principles:
- Learning requires information to be committed to long-term memory.
- Information is processed through the working memory.
- The working memory has limited capacity and can be overloaded (cognitive load theory)
- There are no known limits to the capacity of long-term memory.
This means that our job as educators is to support students to get knowledge and vocabulary into their long-term memory, so that their working memory can take in new information.
There are several promising classroom approaches which current evidence suggests are beneficial to supporting students to commit learning to long-term memory:
- retrieval practice
- spaced learning
- dual coding
- concrete examples
Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve
Ebbinghaus, a German Psychologist noted that as we are given new information, it begins to fall out of our memories. However, the more we review knowledge, the more it sticks in our long-term memory.
This means that forgetting is normal. Rather than be frustrated that our students have forgotten what they did last lesson, we need to plan for it. We need to build in frequent opportunities to revisit the knowledge and vocabulary that we want out students to know.
Students need to encounter information at least 3 times before they understand a concept and commit it to memory. After 3 encounters, 85% of students in the classroom will remember and understand what they have been taught. (Nuttall: The Hidden Lives of Learners)