Bryan Penfound

Professor of Mathematics, Okanagan College, British Columbia, Canada


Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: What does cognitive load theory have to say?

“ADHD makes it sound like I have a lack of focus, but I think of it more as a mismanagement of focus.” When one of my calculus students said this to me this term, I began to get curious as to what Cognitive Load Theory might say about learning and ADHD. Surprisingly, there was little to be found; however, I managed to unearth a few gems worth discussing. In this presentation we will chat about the basic premise of inattentive, impulsive and combined type ADHD; sexual differences arising in children with ADHD; how cognitive load affects those with ADHD in ways that might be unexpected; and tips for teachers on how to maximize classroom learning for students with ADHD. Connections to Sweller’s Cognitive Load Theory and Lavie’s Load Theory of Attention will be explored.


Inspired by cognitive psychology, Bryan has spent the past several years reading about Cognitive Load Theory and other strategies to maximize classroom learning. Over the past two years, he has had the opportunity to utilize some of the learning strategies in his calculus class. Currently a professor at Okanagan College in British Columbia, his next major goal is to create post-secondary mathematics texts containing interleaved and spaced practice.


Bridging Mathematics and Mathematics Education – Working in a joint position for both the mathematics and education camps was both highly rewarding and utterly dreadful. In this session, I will reflect on some of the major lessons I have learned from my joint appointment taking care to highlight the discussions necessary to bridge the gaps between camps.