Cognitive Load Theory and the bit in the middle

Filling the pail

I have written before that, as a young teacher, I thought I should be using inquiry-learning-style teaching strategies, that I could not make these work very well and so I guiltily resorted to explicit teaching. However, this explicit teaching was far from optimal. It was never a focus of my training and so I had to work out my own approach through a combination of trial-and-error and observing more experienced teachers. You could describe the style I developed as ‘I-do-you-do’. I would demonstrate a procedure and then ask students to do the same or I would explain a concept and then ask them to answer comprehension questions. If students could not complete the procedure or answer the comprehension questions then my strategy was to repeat the process.

In learning about Cognitive Load Theory, I have come to realise the importance of a middle stage, particularly when dealing with concepts that…

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