Practical strategies and techniques to assist teaching a module include:
Reduce extraneous information while learning
- Remove unnecessary details to free up cognitive resources so students can concentrate on the actual material. Focus on the material they need to learn and remove the material that they don’t so students don’t need to filter what is important.
- Remove extraneous information such as “war-stories" or interesting asides, or place in a separate area which is clearly labelled as optional.
Make sure information is presented in the best way cognitively
Err on the side of caution to make sure students are not overloaded:
- Have a clear structure with headings and sub-headings. Segment the content to help students understand exactly where everything is positioned within the module. Students should not be guessing "What am I supposed to be doing"; "What do I do next"; "How does this relate to everything else".
- Use white space to break up content and videos etc. into segments.
Place a larger white space before and after three related concepts for students to automatically build the three concepts as one group in their mind. Students will automatically recognise the relationship between the concepts without thinking about it.
- Draw connections between areas. Be explicit to avoid students guessing. Explain how this material relates to the previous material.
Create clear distinctions between information - create Must Know, Additional (nice to know), Extension and Activities to organise what students need to learn.
Strongly highlight to students that they do not need to know the additional material, although it is interesting. Students who are struggling can then focus on the Must Know material and activities. For example, the history of programming may be interesting to the author but may not be essential for students to know.
To visually separate Extension activities and the Additional information from the Must Know material, put borders around the different sections. Make the information sections clear as this will take the extra cognitive load off the students.