Cognitive Load Theory in teaching and education came to the forefront with the seminal paper “Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching,” by Paul Kirschner, John Sweller and Richard Clark. This paper uses CLT as the theoretical underpinning for an argument in favour of explicit teaching methods.

Reducing the load on working memory for complex tasks is supported by research demonstrating the worked example effect where providing worked examples for students to study is superior to asking them to solve equivalent problems. Increasing load for simple tasks is supported by research demonstrating ‘desirable difficulties’. For instance, if you want a student to learn the capital of Australia then it might be best to first ask them to guess before telling them the correct answer. This will get them thinking about what they know about Australia before you slot in the new information.