• Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning
  • Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning
  • Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning
  • Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning
Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning
Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning
Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning
Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning

Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning

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How the Mind Learns - a how to guide, with stories Is there anything new in this book? I believe there is sage advice in it for many of us.That our brains adapt is good but also bad for studying. We become bored.For many of us, we were never taught how our minds work and how we should leverage its natural processes to learn. Sometimes, practice or studying feels painfully slow and we often switch to another method that feels good. Unfortunately, we often fail at assessing how much we're learning and have actually learned.Some students were never taught how to learn, and had few, if any, good teachers/mentors.Some teachers were never taught how to teach, and have forgotten what it was like to be a student.This book is for those both groups. The examples and advice for teachers and corporate trainers is also well written and useful.If you have had good teachers or learning examplars, you might find this book less valuable than will most people.SUMMARY:PROs: This book will show you how to structure your learning and assessment processes to learn and confirm you're actually retaining the material. It provides 27 pages of endnotes on scientific studies that support its recommendations. Having read and applied the principles of both MIS and WSSK (see below), I can say they do work, very well.CONs: Be prepared to look for what you want. Most of us will focus on the prescriptions of Chapter 8: e.g. avoid rereading as a primary study method, and do use the blank paper assessment test, etc..=====While reading, I noticed two points made by the authors that will shape your experience:1) page ix in the Preface: "first author is a storyteller"2) page 200: "early readers (of the book draft) urged the author to get specific with practical advice"I agree with reviewers Soumen, T. Pagni, Economist: yes, the book could've been much shorter and focused on the advice.I also agree with the numerous reviewers who praise it: yes it provides excellent practical insight into the best ways to learn (both physical and mental tasks).I will now use the book to evaluate the book.1) Interpret/Elaborate/Infer from what I'm reading:Why is a storyteller the first author? I'm glad they told me. I'm now prepared to wade through long winded stories to find the main points.2) Find the underlying rules/principles in what I've read:- Allow time to forget. You MUST give yourself time to partially, but not completely, forget the material. Then give yourself time to struggle with recalling it.- Effortful (i.e. NOT effortless!) recall is good. It dramatically increases retention.- sustained, deliberate practice, even when it feels ponderous, is helping me learn- Trust the process of study, forget, retrieve.- Reflection is a form of retrieval practice.3) Scatter/Vary/Mix the information while you're studying it.By mixing the precepts in with the stories, the patterns were harder to see. I had to pick up the book several times because I was so annoyed by all the storytelling. However, DURING REFLECTION away from the text, I realized they were deliberately embedding kernels in the stories and forcing me to look for them. Upon revisiting the material, I found myself *wanting* to find and connect the ideas spread across the stories and the book. Clever, and more effective than giving me a list to memorize. During retrieval practice, I actually started remembering some of the advice from the stories, moreso than from the explicit recommendations.4) Change the material BEFORE you've mastered it in that sessionWhat are they trying to teach me? Sometimes before they "got to the point", they switched to yet another story (!)This made me really focus on connecting what I read previously to what I was currentl reading.Thankfully, the chapters often end with a "Takeaways" section.RELATE IT TO WHAT I ALREADY KNOW:I consider this book (MIS) a valuable complement to What Smart Students Know by A. Robinson (WSSK).WSSK tells you in much greater detail what to do while you are a matriculating student i.e. how to approach the conventional schooling process, how to assess class/book structure, how to relate the material to what you've learned, what specifically you should during the pre-study, study and post-study periods.MIS does present specific study methods but it also presents the bigger picture of learning: Why the "learn via re-reading" intuition is wrong, yet feels right. Why the "learn via struggling" process is right, yet feels wrong.In general,WSSK fully develops the terse advice of MIS p207: Elaborate/question/interpret what you're readingMIS fully develops the terse advice WSSK p118: Quiz yourself Periodically.Both are excellent resources for improving your habits for studying from books.Personally, the advice in this book is worth far more than the cost of $21, and a few hours of reading, reflection and note-taking that I paid for it. I do recommend you buy it and apply its principles, even to itself. 4Well Written and Well Researched A very well researched and articulated book. Do you want to retain information better? Do you wish to perform the tasks that you learned more efficiently? Unfortunately there is no magic potion in this book. You won't become a cyborg assembly line guru who can make and fix things at the speed of light and you won't become the next memory champion either. Sorry to spoil it for you. But if you want to read about thoroughly researched methods that help identify and store information, then you hit the jackpot. Perhaps after years of practice, you might accomplish some amazing things. The authors in this book wrote about techniques such as retrieval, spacing, elaboration, Interleaving problems, generation, and reflection. All techniques are unique and potentially useful if applied correctly... or so they say. I have never read anything this well put together about learning before and was quite impressed. 4Novel ideas that are good for the individual, but I think orthodoxy will inhibit their use broadly. When I decided to continue my schooling, I wanted to make the best use of my time. Strange how it took me so long to wise up.In 'Make It Stick' the author (Brown) makes a persuasive argument for changing the way that we impart information to others in order to render it effective. Granted, a lot of what he's talking about is difficult, but that's for social reasons. What I took away from this book was the notion of 'effortful learning'. The notion that learning should be hard, and that's not something we should shy away from.There's only a few points that are eye-opening, but the author does a reasonably good job of hammering in those points with anecdotes from different angles that you're bound to pick up on one of them. I can say that I took something away from this book that has helped my learning elsewhere. 5The book is packed with Big Ideas. People generally are going about learning the wrong ways. Empirical research into how we learn and remember shows that much of what we take for gospel about how to learn turns out to be largely wasted effort. Even college and medical students whose main job is learning rely on study techniques that are far from optimal. At the same time, this field of research, which goes back 125 years but has been particularly fruitful in recent years, has yielded a body of insights that constitute a growing science of learning: highly effective, evidence-based strategies to replace less effective but widely accepted practices that are rooted in theory, lore, and intuition. But there s a catch: the most effective learning strategies are not intuitive. ...This is a book about what people can do for themselves right now in order to learn better and remember longer. ...We write for students and teachers, of course, and for all readers for whom effective learning is a high priority: for trainers in business, industry, and the military; for leaders of professional associations offering in-service training to their members; and for coaches. We also write for lifelong learners nearing middle age or older who want to hone their skills so as to stay in the game.While much remains to be known about learning and its neural underpinnings, a large body of research has yielded principles and practical strategies that can be put to work immediately, at no cost, and to great effect. ~ Peter Brown, Henry Roediger, Mark McDaniel from Make It StickWant to learn about the science of successful learning?Then this is the book for you. Make It Stick is written by story-teller Peter Brown and two leading cognitive scientists who have spent their careers studying learning and memory: Henry Roediger and Mark McDaniel.It s a fascinating exploration of what science says about the most effective learning techniques shining light on the techniques that actually work and those that do not work even though we may think they do!Hint: Rereading, massed practice-practice-practice sessions, and cramming are not wise strategies. Active retrieval, interleaving, spaced repetition, reflection, elaboration, getting your mind right and practicing like an expert, on the other hand, are very good strategies.Here are some of my favorite Big Ideas:1. Fluency vs. Mastery - Don't just go w/your feelings.2. Cranberries + Testing - Active retrieval is where it's at.3. Curveballs - Interleave yourself some curves.4. Elaboration - Explain it like I'm 5.5. Testing - Static vs. Dynamic.To optimizing and actualizing and making it stick! 5Practical Information on How the Brain Learns I coach teenage athletes. This book helped me figure out how to teach them techniques, pace clock skills, and so forth, in ways that they can retain what they've learned. Beyond that, the book was well written, easy to follow, and honestly researched (they weren't selling anything). I liked that they explained how the brain learns without drowning the reader in a bunch of science lingo. I wish that this book was written years ago when I was a college student. It would have helped me study and survive college without all the stress. In fact, this book was useful to me as a coach, but I really recommend it for students! I found it particularly interesting that the authors put their own research to good use when writing the book: Concepts were interleaved. Stories were told. Points of knowledge were repeated at spaced intervals. The information they presented is indeed "sticking" in my brain. 5Finally a learning book based on science! Summary of the key concepts in the book:Conventional Wisdom: Make learning easyBest practice: Design learning with desirable difficultiesDiscussion: Learning is deeper and more durable when it is effortful. Difficulties that elicit more effort and that slow down learning will more than compensate for their inconvenience by making the learning stronger, more precise, and more enduring. Short-term impediments that make for stronger learning have come to be called desirable difficulties. Don t assume you are doing something wrong if the learning feels hard. Not all difficulties in learning are desirable ones. Anxiety while taking a test seems to represent an undesirable difficulty. Slow down to find meaning. Always read prior to the lecture. Training has to be engaging in order to hold employees attention. Conventional Wisdom: Concentrate on one topic at a time (aka. massed practice)Best practice: Interleave different but related topicsDiscussion: Learning from interleaved practice feels slower than learning from massed practice. While interleaving can impede performance during initial learning (tests taken immediately after exposure), interleaving has been show to boost final test performance by a remarkable 215 percent. In addition, commonalities learned through massed practice proved less useful than the differences learned through interleaving. In interleaving, you don t move from a complete practice set of one topic to go to another. You switch before each practice is complete You need to shuffle your flashcards. Conventional Wisdom: Reread material multiple times and in close successionBest practice: Space repetitionDiscussion: Repetition by itself does not lead to good long-term memory It makes sense to reread a text once if there s been a meaningful lapse [at least a day in between] since the first reading. The increased effort required to retrieve the learning after a little forgetting has the effect of retriggering consolidation, further strengthening memory. Design quizzing and exercises to reach back to concepts and learning covered earlier in the term, so that retrieval practices continues and the learning is cumulative. Spiral upward at increasing levels of difficulty with each re-exposure.Conventional Wisdom: Reread to lock-in knowledgeBest practice: Focus on effortful recall of facts or concepts or events from memory (aka. Retrieval practice)Discussion: Retrieving knowledge and skill from memory should become your primary study strategy in place of rereading. There are many methods of retrieval practice. Elaboration, expressing new material in your own words and connecting it with what you already know to find new layers of meaning, for instance by writing daily summaries, is the most effective. Moreover, cultivating the habit of reflecting on ones experiences, of making them into a story, strengthens learning. Essays and short answer tests are the next most effective durable learning strategies because they involve Generation an attempt to answer a question before being shown the answer , followed by practice with flash cards, reflection, and, least effective though still useful, multiple choice or true/false questions. To foster this, convert main points into questions to answer during subsequent studying rather than (or in addition to) highlighting and underling,Conventional Wisdom: Conduct pop-quizzes and high-stakes post-testing with a goal toward errorless resultsBest practice: Conduct frequent, predictable, low-stakes testing (including pre-testing)Discussion: Trying to solve a problem before being taught the solution leads to better learning, even when errors are made in the attempt. In fact, making mistakes and correcting them builds the bridges to advanced learning. In addition, frequent quizzing especially when quizzes are announced in advance - actually reduces learner anxiety. With respect to anxiety, the peak-end rule applies; people judge experiences based on how they were at the peak and at the end. Appreciate that errors are a natural part of learning. Make quizzing and practice exercises count toward the course grade, even if for very low stakes. Set clear learning objectives prior to each class. Conventional Wisdom: Match instructional style to each learner s preferenceBest practice: Match instructional style to the nature of the contentDiscussion: While people do have preferred learning styles (ex: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, tactile), empirical research does not support the notion that learning in your preferred style leads to superior outcomes. When instructional style matches the nature of the content, all learners learn better, regardless of their differing preferences for how the material is taught. Conventional Wisdom: MemorizeBest practice: Extract underlying principles (aka rule learning and structure building )Discussion: It is better to solve a problem than to memorize a solution. Mnemonic devise are sometimes discounted as tricks of memory, not tools that fundamentally add to learning, and in a sense this is correct. The value of mnemonics to raise intellectual abilities comes after mastery of new material. Conventional Wisdom: Learn abstract conceptsBest practice: Learn using methods and examples that are concrete and personalDiscussion: The kind of retrieval practice that proves most effective is one that reflects what you ll be doing with the knowledge later. It s not just what you know, but how you practice what you know that determines how well the learning serves you later. Simulations and role-playing are excellent techniques. Difficulties that don t strengthen the skills you will need, or the kinds of challenges you are likely to encounter in the real-world application of your learning, are not desirable. Practice like you play, because you will play like you practice. Sustained deliberate practice [is] goal-directed, often solitary, and consists of repeated striving to reach beyond your current level of performance. Conventional Wisdom: Read without pausingBest practice: Spend 40% of time reading and 60% of time looking up from the material and silently reciting what it contains.Conventional Wisdom: Provide immediate feedbackBest practice: Delay feedbackDiscussion: Delaying the feedback briefly produces better long-term learning than immediate feedback. That said, receiving immediate corrective feedback is better than receiving no feedback at all.Conventional Wisdom: Review all concepts equallyBest practice: Disproportionately focus on the least familiar material (aka dynamic testing)Discussion: To increase frequency of practice on less familiar material without completely ignoring the most familiar material, use the Leitner box method. Think of it as a series of four file-card boxes. In the first are the study materials that must be practices frequently because you often make mistakes in them. In the second box are the cards you re pretty good at, and that box gets practiced less often than the first, perhaps by half. The cards in the third box are practiced less often than those in the second box, and so on. Conventional Wisdom: Accept that IQ is fixedBest practice: Focus on mindsetDiscussion: Average IQs have risen over the past century with changes in living conditions... IQ is a product of genes and environment including increased stimulation, nurturing, nutrition One difference that matters a lot is how you see yourself and your abilities. As the maxim goes, Whether you think you can or you think you can t, you re right. Adopt a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset; consider your expertise to be in a continuing state of development. Success is less dependent on IQ than on grit, curiosity, and persistence. Knowledge is a foundational element of creativity, critical thinking, and application. The upper limits of your performance on any cognitive or manual skill may be set by factors beyond your control, such as you intelligence and the natural limits of your ability, but most of us can learn to perform nearer to our full potential in most areas by discovering our weaknesses and working to bring them up. Achieving expertise in any field if particular to that field The central idea here is that expert performance is a product of the quantity of and the quality of practice, not of genetic predisposition, and that becoming expert is not beyond the reach of normally gifted people who have the motivation, time, and discipline to pursue it. Conventional Wisdom: Trust your own sense of masteryBest practice: Calibrate your judgmentDiscussion: Calibration is the act of aligning your judgments of what you know and don t know with objective feedback so as to avoid being carried off by the illusions of mastery that catch many learning by surprise at test time. Note: This book practices what it preaches with lots and lots of repetition. The authors are up-front about that but it does get well... repetitive. 5Incorrect emphasis on effort as a way to increase learning I'm a practitioner in human learning and memory. I understand the field -- uh, well, it's too vast to grasp more than a little. But I have conducted untold thousands of up-close observations on learners of all ages, and I've had the privilege of testing theories and methods. I've also developed many of my own techniques for enhancing learning and memory. I really enjoyed all the different examples spelled out in this book. It's a tremendous, beautiful collection of findings that do matter. One persistent weakness is the authors' ongoing theme of the benefit of "effortful retrieval." They hammer on the claim that the harder you work at it, the better you learn. Since I have spent years showing the opposite, I can imagine that readers would feel like straining is equal to better learning. I thought the authors would clarify their understanding of this and say something that showed they don't mean what they seemed to be saying. But as the book draws closer to the end, the assertion gets stronger. It's an unnecessary one that wouldn't take much to tweak. My point is that at certain intervals there are ways to increase learning by reducing effort.One more thing, a kind of funny one. Author Mark's father taught me a lot about testing and measurements and how powerful multiple-choice tests can be. They can be amazing and complex. So, I chuckled each time the authors compared good tests to mere multiple-choice tests. 4This book will change the way you learn I used this book to help refine my autodidactic strategies help me get through my pre-med program. Going from almost failing out to a 3.86 GPA is a testament to this great book. 5There's How You Think You Learn, and There's How You Learn! Okay, well maybe I am overstating that a little. But the main "thesis" of Peter Brown's book - aside from being a summary of what cognitive science data shows about how we learn - is basically that many of the things we often assume about learning are wrong. Here are some of them: we learn best by reading and rereading a passage until we really understand it. WRONG! We learn best when we isolate a skill and practice it over and over again. WRONG! We all have learning styles that are the way we learn best. WRONG! IQ (or something like it) imposes relatively firm limits on how much information we can absorb. WRONG!In this pretty easy-reading book, Peter Brown summarizes some of the latest findings in cognitive science, and many of these findings contradict what is often assumed about learning. First, many k-12 and college students are taught to (and do) use the 'reread and highlight' method to try and absorb content. Well, while this works to an extent, it leads more to an illusion of mastery than mastery. What works better? Read the content and quiz yourself; information retrieval is the key. Retrieving helps to build stronger connections in the brain that will lock information into memory. What's more - and this is another chapter - the harder the retrieval, the stronger your retention of what is retrieved. (So, writing a short essay recalling the concepts works better than true/false and multiple choice recall.)Another myth? While we all certainly have learning preferences (I like to receive my information in written form), that doesn't mean we learn best when receiving information in that form (I can do as well when I receive information audibly as when it is written, even though I prefer the latter). Brown reviews literature that shows that, at least as of now, there is no evidence that shows that how one receives information substantially affects how well we learn the material (after all, hearing or reading a phone number is immaterial to what i am remembering: not the sound or sight of the number, but the number itself). But what they do find is that whether one is an "example learner" or a "rule learner" does have an impact in how well one learns. That is, those who see and practice a math problem and are able to see what the rules are behind the example and commit the rule, rather than the example, to memory will tend to learn better. Also, another factor that affects how well we learn is our mindset, whether we learn for mastery or learn for performance. Those who learn for performance - so that they can show how good they are - tend to tackle learning new things (things that might make them look bad) with trepidation, but those who learn for mastery aspire to acquire new skills openly, without regard to whether they will fail before mastering.These are just some of the lessons from this book. Whether you are a student, teacher, professor, coach, trainer, or any other professional whose job entails teaching others, this is a good book to have. (I'm a professor in a College of Education, and I definitely plan on allowing what I've gleaned from this book to inform my practice.) It is quite informative not only by way of learning theory, but backs up the theory with both empirics and suggestions for practice. Good one. 4an important point of view The extent to which a person is able to learn, how learning can be effectively pursued, and then later retain the skills and knowledge gained from the learning activities involve critical questions for all of us, not just for teachers, like myself. It is also important to understand how and the extent to which we can improve on this learning. These are, from the perspective of science (and perhaps from the perspectives of most of us) not just involved with critical problems, but hard ones as well. This book, through stories and discussions, takes us into the heart of some of the important scientific findings, arrived at over many years of research in psychology, education and other fields. There are hugely subtle influences here associated with the individual trying to learn and retain what she learns, and her environment, and the feedback that occurs. Thus, it is not too surprising that science is uncovering what appear to be some fairly non-intuitive findings about this. Personally, I found the book filled with interesting ideas. We know that we often, as teachers, have forgotten the steep hills we had to climb to mastery. Therefore, I think a book like this that attends to many facets of the learning process is a valuable antidote to complacency. It is easy to lack empathy and appreciation for the struggles of a student, or of anyone trying to learn something important or useful, when you are already a master or expert. I feel this book places a lot of this struggle in some good perspective, and the "scientific" point of view expounded is helpful. I would, however, suggest that the summary dismissal of various strategies for learning, such as massed study and re-reading, and the emphasis on problems and tests, may not be as warranted as the current "science" suggests. It is sobering to be somewhat aware of the history of science, and how often science goes astray. That said, and that it is wise to bring a healthy dose of skepticism, this book presents a worthwhile point of view to be aware of, in a most subtle and difficult area of science. 5
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How the Mind Learns - a how to guide, with stories Is there anything new in this book? I believe there is sage advice in it for many of us.That our brains adapt is good but also bad for studying. We become bored.For many of us, we were never taught how our minds work and how we should leverage its natural processes to learn. Sometimes, practice or studying feels painfully slow and we often switch to another method that feels good. Unfortunately, we often fail at assessing how much we're learning and have actually learned.Some students were never taught how to learn, and had few, if any, good teachers/mentors.Some teachers were never taught how to teach, and have forgotten what it was like to be a student.This book is for those both groups. The examples and advice for teachers and corporate trainers is also well written and useful.If you have had good teachers or learning examplars, you might find this book less valuable than will most people.SUMMARY:PROs: This book will show you how to structure your learning and assessment processes to learn and confirm you're actually retaining the material. It provides 27 pages of endnotes on scientific studies that support its recommendations. Having read and applied the principles of both MIS and WSSK (see below), I can say they do work, very well.CONs: Be prepared to look for what you want. Most of us will focus on the prescriptions of Chapter 8: e.g. avoid rereading as a primary study method, and do use the blank paper assessment test, etc..=====While reading, I noticed two points made by the authors that will shape your experience:1) page ix in the Preface: "first author is a storyteller"2) page 200: "early readers (of the book draft) urged the author to get specific with practical advice"I agree with reviewers Soumen, T. Pagni, Economist: yes, the book could've been much shorter and focused on the advice.I also agree with the numerous reviewers who praise it: yes it provides excellent practical insight into the best ways to learn (both physical and mental tasks).I will now use the book to evaluate the book.1) Interpret/Elaborate/Infer from what I'm reading:Why is a storyteller the first author? I'm glad they told me. I'm now prepared to wade through long winded stories to find the main points.2) Find the underlying rules/principles in what I've read:- Allow time to forget. You MUST give yourself time to partially, but not completely, forget the material. Then give yourself time to struggle with recalling it.- Effortful (i.e. NOT effortless!) recall is good. It dramatically increases retention.- sustained, deliberate practice, even when it feels ponderous, is helping me learn- Trust the process of study, forget, retrieve.- Reflection is a form of retrieval practice.3) Scatter/Vary/Mix the information while you're studying it.By mixing the precepts in with the stories, the patterns were harder to see. I had to pick up the book several times because I was so annoyed by all the storytelling. However, DURING REFLECTION away from the text, I realized they were deliberately embedding kernels in the stories and forcing me to look for them. Upon revisiting the material, I found myself *wanting* to find and connect the ideas spread across the stories and the book. Clever, and more effective than giving me a list to memorize. During retrieval practice, I actually started remembering some of the advice from the stories, moreso than from the explicit recommendations.4) Change the material BEFORE you've mastered it in that sessionWhat are they trying to teach me? Sometimes before they "got to the point", they switched to yet another story (!)This made me really focus on connecting what I read previously to what I was currentl reading.Thankfully, the chapters often end with a "Takeaways" section.RELATE IT TO WHAT I ALREADY KNOW:I consider this book (MIS) a valuable complement to What Smart Students Know by A. Robinson (WSSK).WSSK tells you in much greater detail what to do while you are a matriculating student i.e. how to approach the conventional schooling process, how to assess class/book structure, how to relate the material to what you've learned, what specifically you should during the pre-study, study and post-study periods.MIS does present specific study methods but it also presents the bigger picture of learning: Why the "learn via re-reading" intuition is wrong, yet feels right. Why the "learn via struggling" process is right, yet feels wrong.In general,WSSK fully develops the terse advice of MIS p207: Elaborate/question/interpret what you're readingMIS fully develops the terse advice WSSK p118: Quiz yourself Periodically.Both are excellent resources for improving your habits for studying from books.Personally, the advice in this book is worth far more than the cost of $21, and a few hours of reading, reflection and note-taking that I paid for it. I do recommend you buy it and apply its principles, even to itself. 4Well Written and Well Researched A very well researched and articulated book. Do you want to retain information better? Do you wish to perform the tasks that you learned more efficiently? Unfortunately there is no magic potion in this book. You won't become a cyborg assembly line guru who can make and fix things at the speed of light and you won't become the next memory champion either. Sorry to spoil it for you. But if you want to read about thoroughly researched methods that help identify and store information, then you hit the jackpot. Perhaps after years of practice, you might accomplish some amazing things. The authors in this book wrote about techniques such as retrieval, spacing, elaboration, Interleaving problems, generation, and reflection. All techniques are unique and potentially useful if applied correctly... or so they say. I have never read anything this well put together about learning before and was quite impressed. 4Novel ideas that are good for the individual, but I think orthodoxy will inhibit their use broadly. When I decided to continue my schooling, I wanted to make the best use of my time. Strange how it took me so long to wise up.In 'Make It Stick' the author (Brown) makes a persuasive argument for changing the way that we impart information to others in order to render it effective. Granted, a lot of what he's talking about is difficult, but that's for social reasons. What I took away from this book was the notion of 'effortful learning'. The notion that learning should be hard, and that's not something we should shy away from.There's only a few points that are eye-opening, but the author does a reasonably good job of hammering in those points with anecdotes from different angles that you're bound to pick up on one of them. I can say that I took something away from this book that has helped my learning elsewhere. 5The book is packed with Big Ideas. People generally are going about learning the wrong ways. Empirical research into how we learn and remember shows that much of what we take for gospel about how to learn turns out to be largely wasted effort. Even college and medical students whose main job is learning rely on study techniques that are far from optimal. At the same time, this field of research, which goes back 125 years but has been particularly fruitful in recent years, has yielded a body of insights that constitute a growing science of learning: highly effective, evidence-based strategies to replace less effective but widely accepted practices that are rooted in theory, lore, and intuition. But there s a catch: the most effective learning strategies are not intuitive. ...This is a book about what people can do for themselves right now in order to learn better and remember longer. ...We write for students and teachers, of course, and for all readers for whom effective learning is a high priority: for trainers in business, industry, and the military; for leaders of professional associations offering in-service training to their members; and for coaches. We also write for lifelong learners nearing middle age or older who want to hone their skills so as to stay in the game.While much remains to be known about learning and its neural underpinnings, a large body of research has yielded principles and practical strategies that can be put to work immediately, at no cost, and to great effect. ~ Peter Brown, Henry Roediger, Mark McDaniel from Make It StickWant to learn about the science of successful learning?Then this is the book for you. Make It Stick is written by story-teller Peter Brown and two leading cognitive scientists who have spent their careers studying learning and memory: Henry Roediger and Mark McDaniel.It s a fascinating exploration of what science says about the most effective learning techniques shining light on the techniques that actually work and those that do not work even though we may think they do!Hint: Rereading, massed practice-practice-practice sessions, and cramming are not wise strategies. Active retrieval, interleaving, spaced repetition, reflection, elaboration, getting your mind right and practicing like an expert, on the other hand, are very good strategies.Here are some of my favorite Big Ideas:1. Fluency vs. Mastery - Don't just go w/your feelings.2. Cranberries + Testing - Active retrieval is where it's at.3. Curveballs - Interleave yourself some curves.4. Elaboration - Explain it like I'm 5.5. Testing - Static vs. Dynamic.To optimizing and actualizing and making it stick! 5Practical Information on How the Brain Learns I coach teenage athletes. This book helped me figure out how to teach them techniques, pace clock skills, and so forth, in ways that they can retain what they've learned. Beyond that, the book was well written, easy to follow, and honestly researched (they weren't selling anything). I liked that they explained how the brain learns without drowning the reader in a bunch of science lingo. I wish that this book was written years ago when I was a college student. It would have helped me study and survive college without all the stress. In fact, this book was useful to me as a coach, but I really recommend it for students! I found it particularly interesting that the authors put their own research to good use when writing the book: Concepts were interleaved. Stories were told. Points of knowledge were repeated at spaced intervals. The information they presented is indeed "sticking" in my brain. 5Finally a learning book based on science! Summary of the key concepts in the book:Conventional Wisdom: Make learning easyBest practice: Design learning with desirable difficultiesDiscussion: Learning is deeper and more durable when it is effortful. Difficulties that elicit more effort and that slow down learning will more than compensate for their inconvenience by making the learning stronger, more precise, and more enduring. Short-term impediments that make for stronger learning have come to be called desirable difficulties. Don t assume you are doing something wrong if the learning feels hard. Not all difficulties in learning are desirable ones. Anxiety while taking a test seems to represent an undesirable difficulty. Slow down to find meaning. Always read prior to the lecture. Training has to be engaging in order to hold employees attention. Conventional Wisdom: Concentrate on one topic at a time (aka. massed practice)Best practice: Interleave different but related topicsDiscussion: Learning from interleaved practice feels slower than learning from massed practice. While interleaving can impede performance during initial learning (tests taken immediately after exposure), interleaving has been show to boost final test performance by a remarkable 215 percent. In addition, commonalities learned through massed practice proved less useful than the differences learned through interleaving. In interleaving, you don t move from a complete practice set of one topic to go to another. You switch before each practice is complete You need to shuffle your flashcards. Conventional Wisdom: Reread material multiple times and in close successionBest practice: Space repetitionDiscussion: Repetition by itself does not lead to good long-term memory It makes sense to reread a text once if there s been a meaningful lapse [at least a day in between] since the first reading. The increased effort required to retrieve the learning after a little forgetting has the effect of retriggering consolidation, further strengthening memory. Design quizzing and exercises to reach back to concepts and learning covered earlier in the term, so that retrieval practices continues and the learning is cumulative. Spiral upward at increasing levels of difficulty with each re-exposure.Conventional Wisdom: Reread to lock-in knowledgeBest practice: Focus on effortful recall of facts or concepts or events from memory (aka. Retrieval practice)Discussion: Retrieving knowledge and skill from memory should become your primary study strategy in place of rereading. There are many methods of retrieval practice. Elaboration, expressing new material in your own words and connecting it with what you already know to find new layers of meaning, for instance by writing daily summaries, is the most effective. Moreover, cultivating the habit of reflecting on ones experiences, of making them into a story, strengthens learning. Essays and short answer tests are the next most effective durable learning strategies because they involve Generation an attempt to answer a question before being shown the answer , followed by practice with flash cards, reflection, and, least effective though still useful, multiple choice or true/false questions. To foster this, convert main points into questions to answer during subsequent studying rather than (or in addition to) highlighting and underling,Conventional Wisdom: Conduct pop-quizzes and high-stakes post-testing with a goal toward errorless resultsBest practice: Conduct frequent, predictable, low-stakes testing (including pre-testing)Discussion: Trying to solve a problem before being taught the solution leads to better learning, even when errors are made in the attempt. In fact, making mistakes and correcting them builds the bridges to advanced learning. In addition, frequent quizzing especially when quizzes are announced in advance - actually reduces learner anxiety. With respect to anxiety, the peak-end rule applies; people judge experiences based on how they were at the peak and at the end. Appreciate that errors are a natural part of learning. Make quizzing and practice exercises count toward the course grade, even if for very low stakes. Set clear learning objectives prior to each class. Conventional Wisdom: Match instructional style to each learner s preferenceBest practice: Match instructional style to the nature of the contentDiscussion: While people do have preferred learning styles (ex: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, tactile), empirical research does not support the notion that learning in your preferred style leads to superior outcomes. When instructional style matches the nature of the content, all learners learn better, regardless of their differing preferences for how the material is taught. Conventional Wisdom: MemorizeBest practice: Extract underlying principles (aka rule learning and structure building )Discussion: It is better to solve a problem than to memorize a solution. Mnemonic devise are sometimes discounted as tricks of memory, not tools that fundamentally add to learning, and in a sense this is correct. The value of mnemonics to raise intellectual abilities comes after mastery of new material. Conventional Wisdom: Learn abstract conceptsBest practice: Learn using methods and examples that are concrete and personalDiscussion: The kind of retrieval practice that proves most effective is one that reflects what you ll be doing with the knowledge later. It s not just what you know, but how you practice what you know that determines how well the learning serves you later. Simulations and role-playing are excellent techniques. Difficulties that don t strengthen the skills you will need, or the kinds of challenges you are likely to encounter in the real-world application of your learning, are not desirable. Practice like you play, because you will play like you practice. Sustained deliberate practice [is] goal-directed, often solitary, and consists of repeated striving to reach beyond your current level of performance. Conventional Wisdom: Read without pausingBest practice: Spend 40% of time reading and 60% of time looking up from the material and silently reciting what it contains.Conventional Wisdom: Provide immediate feedbackBest practice: Delay feedbackDiscussion: Delaying the feedback briefly produces better long-term learning than immediate feedback. That said, receiving immediate corrective feedback is better than receiving no feedback at all.Conventional Wisdom: Review all concepts equallyBest practice: Disproportionately focus on the least familiar material (aka dynamic testing)Discussion: To increase frequency of practice on less familiar material without completely ignoring the most familiar material, use the Leitner box method. Think of it as a series of four file-card boxes. In the first are the study materials that must be practices frequently because you often make mistakes in them. In the second box are the cards you re pretty good at, and that box gets practiced less often than the first, perhaps by half. The cards in the third box are practiced less often than those in the second box, and so on. Conventional Wisdom: Accept that IQ is fixedBest practice: Focus on mindsetDiscussion: Average IQs have risen over the past century with changes in living conditions... IQ is a product of genes and environment including increased stimulation, nurturing, nutrition One difference that matters a lot is how you see yourself and your abilities. As the maxim goes, Whether you think you can or you think you can t, you re right. Adopt a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset; consider your expertise to be in a continuing state of development. Success is less dependent on IQ than on grit, curiosity, and persistence. Knowledge is a foundational element of creativity, critical thinking, and application. The upper limits of your performance on any cognitive or manual skill may be set by factors beyond your control, such as you intelligence and the natural limits of your ability, but most of us can learn to perform nearer to our full potential in most areas by discovering our weaknesses and working to bring them up. Achieving expertise in any field if particular to that field The central idea here is that expert performance is a product of the quantity of and the quality of practice, not of genetic predisposition, and that becoming expert is not beyond the reach of normally gifted people who have the motivation, time, and discipline to pursue it. Conventional Wisdom: Trust your own sense of masteryBest practice: Calibrate your judgmentDiscussion: Calibration is the act of aligning your judgments of what you know and don t know with objective feedback so as to avoid being carried off by the illusions of mastery that catch many learning by surprise at test time. Note: This book practices what it preaches with lots and lots of repetition. The authors are up-front about that but it does get well... repetitive. 5Incorrect emphasis on effort as a way to increase learning I'm a practitioner in human learning and memory. I understand the field -- uh, well, it's too vast to grasp more than a little. But I have conducted untold thousands of up-close observations on learners of all ages, and I've had the privilege of testing theories and methods. I've also developed many of my own techniques for enhancing learning and memory. I really enjoyed all the different examples spelled out in this book. It's a tremendous, beautiful collection of findings that do matter. One persistent weakness is the authors' ongoing theme of the benefit of "effortful retrieval." They hammer on the claim that the harder you work at it, the better you learn. Since I have spent years showing the opposite, I can imagine that readers would feel like straining is equal to better learning. I thought the authors would clarify their understanding of this and say something that showed they don't mean what they seemed to be saying. But as the book draws closer to the end, the assertion gets stronger. It's an unnecessary one that wouldn't take much to tweak. My point is that at certain intervals there are ways to increase learning by reducing effort.One more thing, a kind of funny one. Author Mark's father taught me a lot about testing and measurements and how powerful multiple-choice tests can be. They can be amazing and complex. So, I chuckled each time the authors compared good tests to mere multiple-choice tests. 4This book will change the way you learn I used this book to help refine my autodidactic strategies help me get through my pre-med program. Going from almost failing out to a 3.86 GPA is a testament to this great book. 5There's How You Think You Learn, and There's How You Learn! Okay, well maybe I am overstating that a little. But the main "thesis" of Peter Brown's book - aside from being a summary of what cognitive science data shows about how we learn - is basically that many of the things we often assume about learning are wrong. Here are some of them: we learn best by reading and rereading a passage until we really understand it. WRONG! We learn best when we isolate a skill and practice it over and over again. WRONG! We all have learning styles that are the way we learn best. WRONG! IQ (or something like it) imposes relatively firm limits on how much information we can absorb. WRONG!In this pretty easy-reading book, Peter Brown summarizes some of the latest findings in cognitive science, and many of these findings contradict what is often assumed about learning. First, many k-12 and college students are taught to (and do) use the 'reread and highlight' method to try and absorb content. Well, while this works to an extent, it leads more to an illusion of mastery than mastery. What works better? Read the content and quiz yourself; information retrieval is the key. Retrieving helps to build stronger connections in the brain that will lock information into memory. What's more - and this is another chapter - the harder the retrieval, the stronger your retention of what is retrieved. (So, writing a short essay recalling the concepts works better than true/false and multiple choice recall.)Another myth? While we all certainly have learning preferences (I like to receive my information in written form), that doesn't mean we learn best when receiving information in that form (I can do as well when I receive information audibly as when it is written, even though I prefer the latter). Brown reviews literature that shows that, at least as of now, there is no evidence that shows that how one receives information substantially affects how well we learn the material (after all, hearing or reading a phone number is immaterial to what i am remembering: not the sound or sight of the number, but the number itself). But what they do find is that whether one is an "example learner" or a "rule learner" does have an impact in how well one learns. That is, those who see and practice a math problem and are able to see what the rules are behind the example and commit the rule, rather than the example, to memory will tend to learn better. Also, another factor that affects how well we learn is our mindset, whether we learn for mastery or learn for performance. Those who learn for performance - so that they can show how good they are - tend to tackle learning new things (things that might make them look bad) with trepidation, but those who learn for mastery aspire to acquire new skills openly, without regard to whether they will fail before mastering.These are just some of the lessons from this book. Whether you are a student, teacher, professor, coach, trainer, or any other professional whose job entails teaching others, this is a good book to have. (I'm a professor in a College of Education, and I definitely plan on allowing what I've gleaned from this book to inform my practice.) It is quite informative not only by way of learning theory, but backs up the theory with both empirics and suggestions for practice. Good one. 4an important point of view The extent to which a person is able to learn, how learning can be effectively pursued, and then later retain the skills and knowledge gained from the learning activities involve critical questions for all of us, not just for teachers, like myself. It is also important to understand how and the extent to which we can improve on this learning. These are, from the perspective of science (and perhaps from the perspectives of most of us) not just involved with critical problems, but hard ones as well. This book, through stories and discussions, takes us into the heart of some of the important scientific findings, arrived at over many years of research in psychology, education and other fields. There are hugely subtle influences here associated with the individual trying to learn and retain what she learns, and her environment, and the feedback that occurs. Thus, it is not too surprising that science is uncovering what appear to be some fairly non-intuitive findings about this. Personally, I found the book filled with interesting ideas. We know that we often, as teachers, have forgotten the steep hills we had to climb to mastery. Therefore, I think a book like this that attends to many facets of the learning process is a valuable antidote to complacency. It is easy to lack empathy and appreciation for the struggles of a student, or of anyone trying to learn something important or useful, when you are already a master or expert. I feel this book places a lot of this struggle in some good perspective, and the "scientific" point of view expounded is helpful. I would, however, suggest that the summary dismissal of various strategies for learning, such as massed study and re-reading, and the emphasis on problems and tests, may not be as warranted as the current "science" suggests. It is sobering to be somewhat aware of the history of science, and how often science goes astray. That said, and that it is wise to bring a healthy dose of skepticism, this book presents a worthwhile point of view to be aware of, in a most subtle and difficult area of science. 5
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