At High Cliff Academy, our pedagogical approach is based on the notion that all new information goes into the ‘working memory’ and that, once the new information has been introduced, we need to move it into the ‘long-term memory’.
In order for new information to be retained, it should – where possible – have a link to existing knowledge. By doing this, we are supporting the children with the building of schema, or a mental structure, which helps the children create links between what they know and what they are learning.
The principle of ‘Direct Instruction’ supports the building of schema. Teachers take responsibility for planning lessons that build on prior knowledge and they introduce new information in small, digestible, chunks.
The children’s cognitive load (the effort that a learner is able to focus on understanding what they are being presented with) is directed at a specific piece of knowledge. By presenting the children with too much all at once, or expecting the children to ‘discover’ something on their own, we run the risk of creating cognitive overload and so the brain struggles to process all of the new information.
It is also extremely important that there is an opportunity to practise using prior learning to ensure it is being stored in the long-term memory.