chunkingWhat is The Chunking Technique?

Chunking is when we take large amounts of information such as numbers or letters and group them (chunk them) into groups which are smaller in size in order to make the information easier to remember.

For example:

mobile number

Figure 1. Chunking Example. (Source: How Design, 2015)

We automatically use the chunking technique to remember our mobile phone numbers. If your number is 0424923165, when someone asks you for it, you tend to relay it in this form.  “0424 923 165”. By breaking the 10 digits up into smaller groups, this allows us to remember the number with ease. This is an approach we should attempt to take when trying to remember any large amounts of information.

WHERE DID THE CHUNKING CONCEPT COME FROM?

The chunking concept was formulated in 1956 by Mr George. A. Miller. He found that working memory is limited in it’s capacity to hold large amount of information. He also found that the human brain could hold seven (plus or minus two) chunks of information at once. More recent research has found that this may actually be closer to four or five bits of information instead.

WHY SHOULD WE USE CHUNKING?

“Working memory, which is where we manipulate information, holds a limited amount of information at one time.” (Malamed, 2015)

By chunking together information into smaller groups, we are more likely to learn and to hold onto the information we have taken in. This is why it is important when designing a product, that we consider this to ensure ultimate usability and productivity.

REFERENCES

Clause, C. (2015). “Chunking Method: Definition & Examples.” Retrieved October 30, 2015, from http://study.com/academy/lesson/chunking-method-definition-examples-quiz.html.

Malamed, C. (2015). “Chunking Information for Instructional Design.” Retrieved October 30, 2015, from http://theelearningcoach.com/elearning_design/chunking-information/.

Miller, G. (1956). The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on our Capacity for Processing Information. Harvard University: Psychological Review, 63, 81-97.

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