✏️ Chunking for Improving Students' Learning

Oct 1 / The Dance Scientist
If you didn't know, chunking is a strategy that saves room in the working memory. If we chunk new concepts and relate them to old concepts that we already know, we use less working memory & our learning becomes more effective.

Three ways I actually apply this in my teaching:
1. Relate it to something they know - If I'm teaching a ballet step, I say this is like a jazz ___ except it's a ______. This helps to save some room in their working memory, which is especially important for beginner learners.

2. Call things cousins/families - I say these two steps are cousins. One does ___ and one does ____. Again, when we make associations like this to existing knowledge, we take up less space so we're able to learn more NEW things!

3. Remember for beginner learners almost everything is new, so their cognitive overload (what I call the 'ceiling') is much lower. We have to take this into consideration when teaching beginner learners that we don't overwhelm them, especially while they are dancing.

This is why I say that Dance Educators also need to be knowledgeable in areas like: Motor Learning & Cognitive Psychology because they're game changers for how we communicate to our students.


Enghauser, R. (2003). Motor learning and the dance technique class: Science, tradition, and pedagogy. Journal of Dance Education, 3(3), 87–95. https://doi.org/10.1080/15290824.2003.10387235Thalmann, M., Souza, A. S., & Oberauer, K. (2019). How does chunking help working memory? Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 45(1), 37–55. https://doi.org/10.1037/xlm0000578

- 💗 Maria
CEO of The Dance Scientist, L.L.C.
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