Crucial Thought Rss

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Chris selected as K12OnlineConference keynote speaker Each year the K12OnlineConference provides tremendous professional development for free, and entirely online. This year, they have selected me as one of their keynote speakers. I am thrilled to have been chosen and look forward to participating in the conversation. Read the full post announcing all the keynote speakers here.

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Two quick links on Cognitive Load Theory I've been fielding lots of questions lately about Cognitive Load Theory. Here are two quick links that may be useful. First is an article talking about the practical implications of CLT on the design of learning. The second are some "recent" (as of 2003) developments regarding CLT. Happy reading! Update: I clarified the second...

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Practical advice on kids and Android app development After hearing about my students' success developing an Android app, I've gotten several emails asking for more details as to how I practically worked with my kids. Here are some pointers that I offered to the first person that emailed me, perhaps they are of some use to you. Please note that your mileage may vary. It's ok to not be...

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Publishing an App Inventor app to the Android Market As I mentioned earlier, my students and I published an Android app to the Android Market. See those links for more information on the background. This post is decidedly technical. First, once we finished the coding process, we packaged the app for to download to the computer. This is an option in App Inventor. This downloaded an .apk file....

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Designing and publishing an Android app with kids This post is designed to provide some context around how/why we decided to build this app. The more technical details of the code and how we published it will come in a future post. My students and I recently completed and published an Android app, and here's how we did it. First, the genesis for this goes back to a question I asked...

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Experts, novices, and cognitive load

Category : General

I’m responding to Tim Wilson here, who touches on some very salient points regarding experts and novices.

My comment on his blog went like this…

Hi Tim,

I think the novices/expert distinction bears a bit more time here.

As novices gain expertise, the amount of cognitive load required for a particular activity lessens. As the behavior becomes automatized, the amount of load required lessens. Then, once expertise is gained the newly crowned expert can reinvest the extra cognitive load into other things.

The classic example is driving. Of course your recall how much you had to pay attention to the brake, gas, shifting, etc when you first started to drive. As that became more of a routine (automaticity was reached) you had to invest less load into driving and could focus on the other things like eating or talking on the phone. A bit silly, but you see the difference.

Take this in the classroom and a new teacher. The new teacher is at such a high level of cognitive load that he or she cannot focus on much more than lesson delivery. Once the behavior of delivering a lesson (for example) becomes more automatized he or she can then reinvest the load into more effective behavior management, etc. That’s why teachers who have been in the classroom for a long time (experts, veteran teachers) seem to have eyes in the back of their heads. The truth behind that is that they are investing load in watching students while the lesson delivery is automatized.

As for proven techniques, from a cognitive load perspective (Sweller, Kalyuga, Feldon, Ayers, Van Merrionboer and others) in order to accelerate that continuum as you say, one must practice. It is only when behavior becomes automatized can the extra load be reinvested in other things.

How does this help a new teacher? He or she should practice classroom routines ad nauseum. Not necessarily with students, but they need to be down. Everything from attendance to transitions to where to put stuff and so on. This way he or she can focus on lessons and students effectively lowering load.

There was an excellent article that speaks directly to this. It’s called Cognitive Load in the Classroom, the Double Edged Sword of Automaticity. Here is the citation, devour it and you’ll see the research behind what you think here intuitively.

Here is the link, but it’s in Educational Psychologist, so you’ll need journal access.


If you don’t have access, email me and I will send it to you (with the author’s permission, which I have).

Hope this helps..


Your thoughts?

Comments (2)

You touched on some great points. I wish you would have linked back to the original article so I could read that. Nonetheless, this is a discussion I have been having with the local university for many years. They expect their student teachers to master questioning techniques, management, differentiation of instruction, and technology. I feel it is all they can do to get the lesson out at first. I think if mastery is expected, then student teaching should be lengthened. A year of student teaching might actually make for better, more prepared teachers.

Sorry about that, I intended to..

Here it is..