A tutor stands at a whiteboard in front of a group of three pupils.

Episode 4: Improving tuition with retrieval practice and cognitive load theory


  • Time to read: 2 minutes

At Tutor Trust, we want to make sure that every session of tutoring has the maximum impact on pupils' progress. As such, we're very keen to learn from experts who are researching how learning actually happens, and embed their insights and strategies into our tutor training and CPD. 

In our fourth Tutorcast episode, Improving Tuition with Retrieval Practice and Cognitive Load Theory, we are delighted to welcome Liz Birchinall, Programme Director Primary PGCE at the University of Manchester.

We discuss two of the most popular topics in educational circles. Researchers have widely praised Retrieval Practice for its effectiveness as a revision technique that strengthens memory. This can improve long-term retention and understanding and can be done through recalling information from previous lessons, reading, or self-testing.

Cognitive Load Theory is a way of understanding how people learn by looking at the limits of the brain's working memory. The idea is that when someone is trying to learn or perform a task, there's only so much information the brain can handle at once. To make learning easier and more effective, it's important to keep the amount of information being processed to a minimum.

Liz shares the key to reducing cognitive overload and making learning easier, as well as valuable tips for helping students process their learning and move it to long-term memory. Find out how fully understanding vocabulary, using ‘expert reversal’ and dual coding can enhance learning and match students’ unique learning styles.  Liz’s insights reflect the content of the high-quality training we give our tutors. We know the importance of tuition being inclusive and supportive for every pupil, to ensure that every hour has the maximum impact.

Tutorcast host, Vicky Sadler, Tutor Trust’s Deputy Director of Training, says the session is a must-hear for anyone keen to support pupils to learn effectively.

“It was great to be able to hear from Liz about the tools and strategies we can use in tuition.  And it’s good to know that we’re including these techniques in our tutor training already, including how we can best support those young people who, through no fault of their own, may have experienced greater barriers to learning.

“Being able to hear directly from an expert about the science of learning, and tips for us as teachers and tutors to ensure what we do is impactful, has been eye-opening. We’ll be inviting Liz back to continue the conversation in two (free) online learning and development sessions for our tutors: Cognitive Load Theory on Tuesday 28 March 4-5pm and Retrieval Practice on Tuesday 23 May 4-5pm."

Tune in on Spotify, and follow us, so that you never miss an episode!

Our latest Tutorcast episodes

Tune in on Spotify and read a deep dive of each episode.
Itinerary and programme of the University of Manchester Local Matters conference

Episode 14: Local Matters: Poverty and Place wrap-up

This episode reflects on the groundbreaking ‘Local Matters’ research project in partnership with the University of Manchester's Education department. Styled Poverty and Place at the Tutor Trust we look at it's impact on the organisation.