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Saturday, June 11, 2016

3-Tiered Plan for Managing the Cognitive Load

A number of years ago I heard Karen Erickson speak about managing the cognitive load for students who have multiple challenges.  She created a great memory aid for teachers and SLPs that I refer to often and hand out to all staff with whom I work.  Her Red Light - Yellow Light - Green Light  concept has helped many students - and staff - balance the load.

Why do we need this?  Well, we each have only a finite amount of cognitive energy we can use when approaching any task.  The various parts of the brain can only remember so much information, or process so much learning, or manage so many tasks at one  time.  So, we have to design learning so that it optimizes the capacity of working memory and other cognitive loads, while providing an effective and engaging learning experience.

The most effective way to optimize this load is to direct the process to the most critical piece of information or activity.  We need to reduce the extraneous load so that the brain does not have to process information that is not relevant to the task, and does not have to perform processes that unduly sap the cognitive energy.  And, we need to determine the intrinsic complexity of the task, and focus the cognitive energy to deal with this.

For students with multiple areas of challenge, this means creating activities and response patterns that do not require significant energy both in the linguistic and motor domains simultaneously.  Here is a link to her handout, which you and your staff may find valuable.  I sure have.

I am on the mend, and feeling more “with it” day by day.  In the meantime, enjoy this short post, and…..
Keep on talking!

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