It is generally accepted that a human brain can hold between five and nine pieces of information in working memory.
The load placed on working memory is dependent on:
- the choice of strategy
- the familiarity of the knowledge needed for the chosen strategy.
Being aware of short-term memory demands is an important feature of teaching for mental strategies. Here are some useful tips.
Knowledge is important.
It influences the strategies a student sees as possible and provides the tools to use those strategies.
Teachers should equally emphasise knowing and working with knowledge to create new connections.
Written recording and mental calculation are compatible.
Jotting ideas while working through a problem clarifies thoughts.
Recording information eases memory load.
Critically evaluate choice of strategy.
Fluency, a proficiency in the Australian Curriculum: Mathematics, requires making efficient choices of strategy.