Chunking learning method: what is it & research

Understand chunking and you’ll be on your way to not just boosting your own learning but improving the effectiveness of your trainings too.

chunking learning method

Parlez vous français ? Or, do you play an instrument perhaps? Have you ever wondered how it is you are able to do either? How the information that allows you to do these things is built up in your brain, until it becomes a skill you no longer have to think about? Well, that’s in part thanks to chunking. Understand chunking and you’ll be on your way to not just boosting your own learning but improving the effectiveness of your trainings too. Let’s break it down into bite-size chunks…

What is chunking & how does it improve your memory?

You may have heard that us humans have three types of memory. First off there’s short-term memory, this allows us to store about 4 pieces of information in our mind for around 30 seconds on average. Your working memory helps the brain organise and mould this information. When we’re learning something for the first time, these are the parts of our memory that are active. With repetition, at regular intervals, and with associations to other ideas, these short-term memories can be converted into chunks of knowledge. These are then stored in our long-term memory for later.

“Chunking is the mental leap that helps you unite bits of information through meaning”.

Learning expert Dr. Barbara Oakley, Oakland University, Michigan.

As the neurological pathways between these chunks are followed again and again, we begin to build up a web of knowledge about a particular subject and the information is increasingly easy to remember. So, chunking is essential to building proficiency at something: longer phrases in French for example, or chord progressions on your ukulele.

What is the chunking method?

Time, repetition and even exercise are all thought to be beneficial to how well we remember over time. Researchers have found that chunking information helps you retain data more easily and get better at chunking as you go forward. Nowadays chunking is used as a staple in learning activities – from maths teaching for kids to university courses – and for daily activities like remembering phone numbers and shopping lists too!

When trainers, or learners purposely break down complex information into bite-size chunks in order to absorb data more effectively, this is often referred to as the ‘chunking method’. Online edtech and e-learning platforms have adopted this as a reliable, scientifically-backed way of aiding learners’ development. At MobieTrain we have taken this a couple of steps further, employing digital gamification of material to make it more fun, engaging and optimised for mobile – as well as chunking it together – as part of our microlearning methodology.

What is the chunking effect?

Information that has been broken down into logical chunks is easier to digest, build on and connect together. The size, order and organisation of the chunks can all add to the effectiveness of learning materials. Learning by chunking has been proven to aid knowledge retention, as practicing, pattern recognition and making associations are part and parcel of an effective chunking strategy. At MobieTrain this forms the basis of the personal learning path created for each user.

Ready to get chunking? : )

Utilising chunking while building learning content is sure to improve its effectiveness and efficiency. It’ll make learning much more fun and engaging for learners too! If you’re looking for tips on how and where you can best incorporate it into your learning materials, drop us a line!