Long before e-learning, there had indeed been a relationship between the success of a student in the class and their executive functioning skills.
These executive functioning skills are process skills like the ability to initiate task, planning ability, prioritization ability and working memory, that allow students successfully complete tasks.
In this article, however, we will be discussing working memory and the ways teachers can bolster this executive functioning skill for effective learning.
Understanding working memory
Working memory is a student’s ability to temporarily retain and use information as they are usually tasked with daily demands such as information prioritization and carrying out different instructions.
For a fact, students that have strong working memory usually perform well in the classroom while students with weak working memory have more difficulties in class.
The good thing is that teachers can help students with weak working memory to strengthen this executive functioning skill.
How can Teachers improve the working memory of their students?
Simplify your language
Just like you plan out the content and materials for teaching, planning your language ensures that students can easily grasp what you are teaching.
Your instructions should be short, specific, and recurring because students with weak working memories are limited by their inability to absorb large amounts of information.
Who says students find routines boring? Think again!
On the contrary, routines lessen the stress students have to go through while learning new things and free up their working memory for other information.
The more they are exposed to certain concepts over a period of time, the more those concepts are engrained in their memories.
Cues help students figure out what is expected of them by their teachers. Using cues helps students organize their thinking.
When you want a student to answer questions with a few points, indicate that they use bullets while detailed answers can be indicated with lines.
This way, students can focus on organizing their thinking instead of using their working memory to hold on to the direction of the task.
Transitioning into new activities can be a stressful process for some students.
This stress can negatively impact the executive functioning skills of students especially their ability to use their working memory.
Smoothly transitioning into new activities can decrease stress and improve students’ working memory.
You could play music or a little game to help students loosen up before delving into the activity of the day.
Helping students improve their working memory makes your work as a teacher easier because students won’t have to take longer periods understanding concepts and the process of recalling what they have learnt won’t be as tedious as it was when they had weak working memory.
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