Strategies to Reduce Cognitive Load

Regardless of the teaching methods we use, students need to be taught the appropriate content to reach their academic goals. This is an educational principle with which we’re all familiar. We’re all used to the classroom being where content is described, applied, and assessed. However, the need for students to be able to access content prior to class has increasingly become the norm in health sciences programs.

While there are many complexities to constructing a successful program, it’s often the little things that success is built upon.

Let’s discuss content in its simplest form — making it available to students. As students’ needs have evolved, we’ve discovered intricacies to this process that go beyond just emailing students information and/or posting documents in your learning management system. Let’s check them out:


Having accessible content is a requirement these days. For today’s students, the real question is how efficiently they can find and download the content. Student stress levels are high and time is a very precious commodity for them. Allowing students access to presentations, reading assignments, and other materials for several classes from a single screen (instead of going course by course) helps to maximize study time. Not to mention, being able to download all materials with a single click, keeps students organized and ready for class each day. 

Here’s a weekly view of the student calendar in Leo. Notice the checkbox and download buttons at the upper right of the documents list. One click on each of these will immediately download all content for the whole week to the student’s device.


Students engaging with content isn’t a one-and-done thing. Whether it’s studying for an exam or referencing an article for an assignment, students often need to go back to prior information. What happens when students need to find old content, but can’t remember the event where it was taught? Students end up wasting time guessing where the content was originally posted, reviewing the syllabus, or maybe even emailing their instructors. None of these options are a good use of anyone’s time. 

This is one of the great benefits of having a curriculum mapping platform that also operates as your student-facing learning management system. By using DaVinci’s Leo to house your course content and learning objectives (among all the other course-related information), you have just provided students with all the searchable information they need to immediately find any content, from any course, on any day. This includes the ability to search for keywords that might appear within a document. This means that no matter when or where the content was delivered, students can get what they need and maximize their time outside of the classroom.


Sometimes your content is more than just materials for students to review and study. Faculty are using more active learning and student-paced teaching methods than ever before, creating a deeper need for students to show up to class prepared. Having a platform that helps communicate pre-class requirements to students is step one in their preparation. With its calendar-based approach, Leo doesn’t let content slip through the cracks because everything students need is right there when they log in. This eliminates students’ excuses (well, in this regard, at least…), increases accountability, and maximizes the effectiveness of class time. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Accessibility. Recall. Delivery. Often overlooked, these are all vital elements in how we make our content available to students. As we constantly work to help students succeed, saving them time and giving them easy access to materials are foundational pieces. These may seem like small things, but the genius is often in the details. Evaluate how your students receive and access their content - it shouldn't be something we just post online. The time has come for content to be delivered in a way that is a true asset to student learning.