John Sweller

/Tag: John Sweller

What’s wrong with Ofsted’s definition of learning?

2019-02-05T20:42:51+00:00February 4th, 2019|Featured|

As everyone already knows, Ofsted have published a draft of the new Inspection Framework which is currently undergoing a process of consultation. Amazingly, one of the most contentious aspects of the document is definition given to learning: Learning can be defined as an alteration in long-term memory. If nothing has altered in long-term memory, nothing has been learned. However, transfer to long-term memory depends on the rich processes described above.[1] In order to develop understanding, pupils connect new knowledge with existing knowledge. Pupils also need to develop fluency and unconsciously apply their knowledge as skills. This must not be reduced to, [...]

When do novices become experts?

2018-02-17T22:33:26+00:00February 17th, 2018|psychology|

It's a fairly well established principle of cognitive science that experts and novices think differently. Being aware of these differences can make a big difference to teachers. For instance, if we assume that most children in most situations are likely to begin as novices this could help point the way to more effective instruction. Here's a summary of some of the main differences between experts and novices. One of the most interesting findings to come out of the research into Cognitive Load Theory is the finding that experts and novices both experience cognitive overload, but experience it differently. Novices, by definition, [...]

The problem with problem solving (or, why I struggle to reset my clock)

2017-05-14T10:28:40+00:00May 14th, 2017|psychology|

When the clocks went forward in March and we arrived in British Summer Time, I made an abortive attempt to change the time on my car's clock. I knew, from having eventually changed it six months ago, that this is a process entirely within my grasp and yet, after about 10 minutes of frustrated fumbling, I'd only succeeded in moving the time forward by 20 minutes. I gave up and resigned myself to having a clock that is 20 minutes fast for the foreseeable future.  This has resulted in a few moments of confusion and panic over the past few weeks. Things [...]

Education isn’t natural – that’s why it’s hard

2018-01-10T20:18:14+00:00February 23rd, 2017|psychology|

One of the most troubling conundrums in the field of education is that the common sense observation that children learn so many things simply by virtue of being immersed in an appropriate environment is contradicted by the overwhelming empirical data that explicit instruction outperforms discovery approaches in schools. Why should this be? Surely if children can learn something as complex as speech without much effort, why do we need to go to the trouble of painstakingly teaching them phoneme/grapheme relationships? It's hard to have some sympathy with the view that it would be better to just give them some appropriate reading material and [...]