7+/-2 Things to Remember for Effective Instructional Design

 In Design, E-learning, Instructional Design

Instructional designers can leverage the psychological principles of human memory to design more effective elearning. Listed below are few best practices.

Organize information meaningfully. Five or six bullets are not acceptable; try harder.

The Miller’s rule of limited capacity of working memory (7 +/-2 objects) directs us to expand and not restrict the limited capacity.

For example, remembering a 10-digit phone number can be made easy by breaking it down into three sets of numbers: 997-867-5309 (as opposed to 9978675309).

 Visualize information. Use the caricature principle.

Just as a caricature accentuates or heightens the stand-out features in the image, instructional images should:

–Focus on critical parts

–Remove unnecessary details

You may want visualize New Jersey rather than the 973 region code and remove 3-digits from the to-be remembered content. New Jersey is easier to remember and evokes the 973 region code.

Stick to multimedia principles. Synergize text, audio, and images to reduce cognitive load.

–Avoid redundant on-screen text (if it’s already in the audio script)

–Use text pointers and highlights to draw attention to the on-screen image

–Integrate text and imagery in the screen-layout; keep images and relevant text nearer to each other

Sequence learning content from the learner’s point of view.

Two things will interfere with any information being recalled—the information learned earlier and information learned later.

The instructional designer must present content in a sequence that eliminates contradictions and information learned later fits-in into the information learned earlier.

Provide feedback immediately.

Immediate feedback has greater reinforcement value, both positive and negative. Avoid delays in feedback.

Don’t you want to be told that you dialled the wrong number A-S-A-P?

Distribute practice sessions over the learning period.

Crammed practice sessions do not help the cause of better recall; practice sessions work best when separated by varying periods.

Ask yourself: are you more likely to remember the phone number you dialled 20 times on a given day or the phone number you dial once every day over 20 days?

Don’t force recall of irrelevant information.

Ensure that learners recall just enough to enable performance of higher level tasks.

For example, 911 is the ONLY number to remember when you need emergency help. Don’t overburden memory with other numbers.

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