The Pre-training Principle is closely related to the segmented principle. Both principles are used in situations when processing information in a lesson could possibly overload the learner's cognitive system. Segmenting involves breaking concepts up into logical chunks presented one at a time allowing the learner to manage the process. Pre-training orients students to new information by defining concepts, key terms, characteristics, and names prior to the introduction of complex new material. " To implement the pre-training principle evaluate the material you need to teach. If it is complex for your audience then identify key concepts to be presented prior to teaching the main lesson" ( Clark & Mayer, 2011, Chapter 10). (Proctor Galloway)

Pretraining Principle00:19

Pretraining Principle

Pre-training is beneficial for learners' who have limited knowledge of  a lesson's content. It reduces the amount of material they have to process and the level of effort associated with thinking and reasoning preventing cognitive overload. A professor I had while pursuing my undergraduate degree used the pre-training principle. The class session prior to a lecture on a new topic he would provide the class with a handout. The handout consisted of definitions of new vocabulary words, key terms, names, and dates that would be associated with the lecture. Comprehension of the lecture was made easier because the amount of material we had to process was reduced by the technique he used. As a result transfer of the information into the lab or on a test was easier. (Proctor Galloway)

“Pretraining can help beginners to manage their processing of complex material by reducing the amount of essential processing they do at the time of the presentation” (Clark & Mayer, 2011, p. 215).  By doing so, the learner can focus on the content that is being presented, and not lag behind trying to understand definitions and terminology.  This will support improved comprehension and retention of the material.  (Laura)

Pretraining is an orientation of sort, an activity or training session that gives learners a preview of concepts and material that will be presented in a course. “The pretraining principle is relevant in situations when trying to process the essential material in the lesson would overwhelm the learner’s cognitive system” (Clark & Mayer, 2011, p. 214). Pretraining is similar to the segmentation principle in that the learner is receiving complex information broken into digestible chunks for a clearer understanding and deeper cognitive learning. (Jackie Smith)

The pre-training principle familiarizes learners with new or complex material before attending the actual class.  This prior familiarization of new information allows learners to concentrate on content material and other lesson intricacies without the cognitive overload of attempting to learn everything from scratch (Clark & Mayer, 2011, Chapter 10).  Past instructors modeling this pre-training principle has directly influenced one’s current teaching methods using pre-training techniques. Currently, one uses pre-training tools to teach 20 new students to play chess in a free virtual classroom called Edmodo.  There is 16 weeks of pre-lesson materials students must work through each week before attending a face-to-face tutorial.  The students that complete the weekly pre-training experience significant gains in playing strength.  Those students who fail to complete the pre-training requirements realize minimal gains in playing strength.  As a chess trainer, the information exchange during the face-to-face lesson with prepared students is at a higher cognitive level that fosters long-lasting learning.  (Luis Gonzalez)        


Clark, R., C., &  Mayer, R., E. (2011). E-learning and the science of instruction: Proven guidelines for consumers

and designers of multimedia learning (3rd ed). Retrieved from The University of Phoenix eBook Collection.

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