The SecEd Podcast: A teacher’s guide to memory

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:

This episode discusses memory, asking what teachers need to know about how students learn, forget, and remember information. Our experts offer a wealth of tangible teaching tips as they discuss short-term, working, and long-term memory, how they work and interact, and the implications for how we teach.

We tackle the importance of attention, how students attend to information differently, and how we can direct pupils’ attention.

We explain cognitive load theory and the limitations of working/short-term memory, how you can tell when students are overloaded, and ideas for helping them to manage the load.

We ask how we can present information effectively so that students pay attention to it and instructional strategies, including routines, worked examples, modelling, dual-coding, classroom resources, and more.

We consider how to build bodies of knowledge or schema, the importance of understanding prior learning, and the power of pre-testing. We look at forgetting – why we should expect our pupils to forget things and teach accordingly. We also ask what we should avoid doing based on what we know about short and long-term memory.

The podcast concludes a nine-article SecEd series focused on the key elements of test-enhanced learning (retrieval practice) and the implications for teaching practice. Find these articles here.

And check out our recent episode from March 2022 focused on retrieval practice, spaced learning, and interleaving. Find this here.

This episode is hosted by Pete Henshaw, the editor of SecEd, and our guests are:

  • Dr Tom Perry is Assistant Professor in the Education Studies Department at the University of Warwick. Dr Perry’s research and teaching are focused on the use of research and evidence to improve education policy and practice. He led the EEF’s July 2021 Cognitive Science Approaches in the Classroom Review:
  • Helen works at Orchard Mead Academy in Leicester as a science teacher and professional coach. She has often written for us on themes relating to retrieval practice:
  • Kristian Still is deputy head academic at Boundary Oak School in Southampton. By the time the podcast airs, he will have published with SecEd a series of nine articles on test-enhanced learning:
  • Sarah Cottingham is a learning design fellow at Ambition Institute. Sarah, a former English teacher, has a professional interest in educational neuroscience and blogs at

To hear other SecEd podcasts, or to subscribe for free to new editions, search for 'The SecEd Podcast' in your podcast streaming application of choice. Or visit

For details about The SecEd Podcast, or to suggest future topics, email editor Pete Henshaw at


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