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Chunking – What is it? How is it used?

Chunking refers to breaking down a task into small achievable steps.

student_asking_question-800pxThe reason for doing this is to avoid the feeling of ‘overwhelm’ that students can be faced with when a task appears to be too long or too difficult.

The Task

If the student doesn’t know where to start and sees the task as being impossible this can then lead to a lack of motivation and disinterest in continuing with the task.

Adults often unconsciously break a long task into smaller more achievable chunks, for example paperwork, such as preparing income tax.
If it is a task that is time consuming or has several steps to completion, it is easier to break the task into smaller chunks rather than completing it all at once.

A solution is to make smaller, more achievable goals.  This is often referred to as chunking.

By setting small achievable goals the student can see that progress being made and that there is an end in sight.

An example


The task : Write a report

First goal : Research information and find  images that can be used in the report.

Second goal : Complete a framework or outline of the report .

Third goal : Write a draft copy. Home tutor assists with editing and proofreading

Fourth goal: Write a neat copy or publish using a computer

In some cases  these smaller milestones or goals can be broken into smaller steps. It depends on the complexity of the task.

Another example

The task : Diary Writing

First goal:  Brainstorm ideas possibly with assistance from the home tutor

Second goal : Choose a topic and write a rough draft using Who? What? Where? When? Why?

Third goal: Write final copy

The goals may be spread over a period of time, for example the length of a set of work or it may be a task that is to be finished within the school working day.

Chunking applies to all year levels.  Younger students will benefit from the home tutor chunking the task and then explaining to the student the steps that will be taken to complete the task.

Experiment with this method.

Use a mind map to break down a task into smaller chunks.

mindmap best

Good organisation skills will help students become better managers of their time and more efficient learners.


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