What’s the most important thing to consider when designing a learning sequence?
Simple – know where your students are on the journey of cognition. Know how much schemata they have!
It matters little what age or sector your students are in. Where they are on the cognition continuum determines the type of learning experiences you design, the questions you can ask and the quality of responses you can hope for. This is because the brain looks very different at each of these stages, stages that ultimately represent the amount of knowledge and understanding about a given topic.
The brain stores information by creating schema (schemata in the plural), or webs of interrelated ideas. The more knowledge a student has, the greater the number of connections that the schema possesses and the more likelihood that more complex questions will be able to be processed, and answered.
The acquisition of schema is absolutely paramount to learning, and so MUST be the primary focus of the design of a learning sequence.
This learning continuum informs the AQF Level 7 threshold learning outcomes for Higher Education in Australia, with focus of year 1 undergraduate degrees that provide induction into the key ideas and knowledge of the discipline, and moving to application of the knowledge in the third year.
I’m Paul Moss. Follow me on Twitter (@edmerger) or on LinkedIn for more discussions about learning design.