A Few Cognitive Tips

Cognitive theory toward study of what processes are happening inside a student’s mind. In particular, theories of memory (sensory register, working memory, long term memory, attention, encoding, etc) help the teacher provide an effective learning environment. Here are some tips:

Tip 1: Be simple and organized. Make important information distinct.

People consciously and unconsciously select what information they process. By being simple and organized, you make sure students aren’t overwhelmed by information. By distinguishing important information (like circling a useful equation), you focus student attention and make sure students process the information you want them to process rather than less important details.

Tip 2: Provide breaks. Also, teach students to give themselves breaks when studying.

In the case that you do overwhelm students with information, make sure they have breaks. Attention spans are relatively short, and passivity can compound the problem. Providing breaks can refocus attention, and even give students the necessary time it takes to process and reflect upon what they are learning.

Tip 3: Give lots of feedback and provide lots of practice.

Feedback is critical. Make sure feedback is prompt, or else students will have trouble connecting their actions to your feedback. Practice is also essential. The more opportunity for students to practice and get feedback on that practice, the better they will remember what to do.

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