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Neuroscience and educational research indicate that students need to acquire new content in small, logical pieces. Chunking or breaking-up content is useful for students’ brains since working memory (where we process information) holds a limited amount of data at one time.

Below are tips to help you chunk learning experiences in your course.

  1. Structure instructional content into levels of importance. Think about your content from a student’s perspective to help you create a logical flow of information rather than skipping around. Scaffold your content so that information helps learners build from piece to piece. For an example on how to structure your module content, check our Chunking Module Content article.
  2. Reduce the amount of information provided to students. The phrase “less is more” is true. We don’t want to overwhelm or overload students with information. Also, include visuals to convey and reinforce information.
  3. Break long lectures into smaller chunks. Studies show that students generally tend to lose focus after a few minutes, so keep your videos short. The recommended length for educational videos is 6-7 minutes after which a student’s attention begins to decline. Also, executives tend to have even shorter attention spans, so when teaching in executive programs, you may lose their attention after 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Organize. Use bulleted and numbered lists, subheadings, and short paragraphs with 3 to 4 sentences in lecture videos to make the information you present clear. This will be beneficial for students as they skim through information. 
  5. Promote learner retention. The ultimate goal of chunking content is that learners acquire, engage, and store information. Take advantage of images, short videos, games, audios/podcasts, practice quizzes, and other multimedia means that can reduce working memory demands.

For assistance with chunking your course content, request eLearning Instructional Design services

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