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Working Memory, a component of executive functioning, allows us to temporarily hold information while we simultaneously process other information. With our Working Memory, we recall and apply the knowledge stored in our Short- and Long-term Memories to perform new tasks and to understand new information. As this involves refreshing information in memory, it is often referred to as updating.
One influential model of Working Memory lays out four components, each considered to have a limited capacity. These separate components are responsible for maintaining verbal Working Memory, visual and spatial Working Memory, and for integrating information from these components while serving as a link between Working Memory and Long-term Memory. In addition, there is an executive control system which directs activities within these systems, including shifting and focusing Attention between them.
High demands on the components of Working Memory may increase cognitive load, or the amount of mental effort being expended by Working Memory during different tasks. For example, those with low Working Memory capacity may have difficulty understanding complex topics while reading online, particularly on smartphones, due to the higher demands of scrolling. Cognitive Load Theory proposes that instruction can be designed in a way that reduces some components of cognitive load:
Between ages 35 and 40, Working Memory capacity begins to decline. Metacognitive awareness, including prioritizing activities and focusing on areas of strength, may help adults mitigate the effects of this decline for tasks that rely heavily on Working Memory.
Using language that is accessible and appropriately leveled for each student allows all learners to feel successful and participate in learning.
When annotating, learners engage deeply with a text and make their thinking visible while reading, which supports Foundational Reading Skills.
Experts can answer questions and provide vocabulary, processes, feedback, and scaffolds to help learners deepen their understanding.
Audiobooks allow learners to hear fluent reading and experience books in a flexible format.
When designing instruction for adults, expectations and goals should be clearly outlined to help learners focus on the material and make plans for success.
Competency-based learning is self-paced, focused on mastery, and centered around demonstrating learning outcomes and skills rather than where or how they were attained.
When learners process and express information visually, they are activating more cognitive processes while Problem Solving.
Analyzing errors is especially beneficial in helping learners develop a Learner Mindset and critical thinking skills, which are a component of Problem Solving.
Teaching adult learners how to systematically evaluate sources prepares them to navigate information in an increasingly complex, digital world.
Networking and supporting adult learners in expanding their social networks provide access to additional resources and Social Supports, which can impact their trajectory and Motivation.
Giving learners the opportunity to explain their thinking process aloud helps them to solidify their comprehension, and move knowledge into their Long-term Memory.
In an increasingly digital world, adults who struggle with using technology can benefit from direct instruction for an array of digital tools.
Teaching learners how to effectively search the internet is critical for helping them learn how to find accurate and relevant information and aids in developing information literacy.
Direct instruction in math strategies may support some adult learners once conceptual understanding is in place.
Research shows that, along with traditional reading comprehension strategies, learners use unique strategies to read the non-linear, hyperlinked structure of online texts.
Adult learners who are struggling with Foundational Reading Skills, including decoding and phonemic awareness, can benefit from explicitly learning phonics skills in an educational setting.
Seeing and using new words repeatedly and across contexts is critical for vocabulary acquisition.
Setting overall goals with actionable steps for achievement can help learners feel more confident in their abilities and help minimize procrastination-related behaviors.
Visualizing how ideas fit together helps learners construct meaning and strengthens their recall.
Opportunities for students to practice skills in context, with instructor support and also independently, helps to move concepts and ideas into Long-term Memory.
Visual reading aids, such as handouts and online guides, help learners to maintain Attention and serve to support the learning process.
Immediate feedback can improve a learner's confidence, self-awareness and enthusiasm for learning, which leads to increased Motivation.
Inquiry-based learning is centered around open-ended questions posed by instructors and/or the learners themselves and fosters a Learner Mindset.
Adult learners benefit from knowing there is an instructor available to provide support as needed, especially during asynchronous learning.
Giving learners the opportunity to share their knowledge, skills, and understanding with others strengthens learning and increases Motivation while also building Social Supports.
Metaphors and analogies can support learners by helping to form connections and to notice patterns and similarities that promote learning, self-concept, and higher order thinking.
Mindfulness is a practice to create internal balance and a sense of being present in the moment.
Creating patterns through mnemonic devices, such as acronyms, categorizing items, visual images, or rhyming, supports the development of memories, including learned content knowledge.
Instruction and training presented in multiple formats allows learners to activate different cognitive skills and Background Knowledge that are necessary to remember procedural and content information.
Effective note-taking during lectures or reading directs learners' Attention to the relevant information, helping them identify key concepts, understand links between ideas and retain information better in their Long-term Memory.
The opportunity to observe peers or experts in action or participate in shadowing can provide a unique and authentic learning experience that often involves questioning, metacognitive thinking, and Problem Solving while providing Social Supports.
When learners provide constructive feedback on each other's work, they reflect on their own understanding, learn to give relevant suggestions, receive specific ways to improve, and engage in Metacognition.
Making space and time for physical activity, through brief movement breaks in the classroom or workplace and incorporating it into daily life, has benefits for the body and mind.
Positive self-talk can support self-efficacy, optimism, Self-regulation, and a Learner Mindset.
When instructors ask questions or have learners create questions before introducing a text, they activate interest, increase Motivation, and help them assess what they already know about a given topic.
Problem-based learning (PBL) is a learner-centered multidisciplinary approach focused on real world applications using active learning methods.
Process-based writing focuses on how learners brainstorm, outline, draft, and revise their writing and is most effective when paired with feedback, especially for English language learners.
Simulations and immersive virtual environments provide authentic learning at a level that can spark curiosity and deeper understanding by engaging multiple senses in exploration.
Learning and studying information across multiple sessions that are spaced, or distributed in time, can promote learning and long-term retention of both basic and conceptually complex facts and concepts.
Speech-to-text takes the input from voice recognition and produces text.
Bringing learners' everyday literacy practices such as text chats into instruction provides regular, low-stakes practice communicating with authentic audiences.
Text-to-speech technology reads the words on a screen aloud.
Analyzing short video clips, replays of important aspects, and videos of oneself applying what has been learned can improve Metacognition and Long-term Memory while fostering a Learner Mindset.
Analyzing and discussing solutions to problems helps students develop a deeper understanding of Problem Solving processes and Numeracy skills.
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On this page, using your heatmap, you will be asked to select factors to further explore, and then select new strategies you might incorporate into upcoming instruction. Once done, click “Show Summary" to view your Design Summary Report.
On this page, using your heatmap, you will be asked to select factors to further explore, and then select new strategies you might incorporate into upcoming instruction. Once done, click “Show Report” to view your Design Summary Report.
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