Cognitive biases cloud our judgement when it comes to learning

As Richard Feynman famously said:

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself — and you are the easiest person to fool.

Book - Make it stick.. the science of successful learningBook - Make it stick.. the science of successful learning

Metadata:

author: Peter C. Brown
title: Make it stick: the science of successful learning



argues that we suffer from various cognitive biases that cloud our judgement of mastery in a given topic we are trying to learn.

The authors present this fact in the duality of Kahneman's two systems from Thinking, Fast and Slow:

  • System 1 is automatic and deeply influential, but is easy to trick by illusions and biases
  • System 2 needs to help in keeping the biases in check

As the book states

Learning when to trust your intuition and when to question it is a big part of how you improve your competence in the world at large and in any field where you want to be expert.

Varying shortcomings of our brain are presented, such as Memory distortion by suggestionMemory distortion by suggestion
Our memory of events we witnessed is highly flexible, as suggested by a study by Loftus and Palmer (1974). Here, they showed films of cars colliding and provided a questionnaire about the event aft...
, Memory distortion by interferenceMemory distortion by interference
Interference from events can distort our memory of other events.

[[Book - Make it stick.. the science of successful learning]] presents the Donald M. Thomson case: A woman was attacked during a ho...
, Memory distortion by imagination inflationMemory distortion by imagination inflation
Imagination inflation is a type of memory distortion that occurs when imagining an event that never happened increases confidence in the memory of the event

Garry, M., Manning, C.G., Loftus, E.F. ...
, as well as the fact that People feel the need to wrap the world in narrativePeople feel the need to wrap the world in narrative
We as humans have a natural need to put the things that happen around us into a cohesive narrative of the world. (Leon Festingers theories could come in handy here, as "not understanding something"...
and that It is nearly impossible to avoid basing one's judgement on subjective experienceIt is nearly impossible to avoid basing one's judgement on subjective experience
Humans do not believe objective accounts of events over their subjective remembering of it and we often underestimate the uniqueness of our situational construals. (The constructivist worlds views ...
. Furthermore, there is the well known Dunning-Kruger effect (see Almost all of us are ignorant about almost everythingAlmost all of us are ignorant about almost everything
because the world is too big not to be. This quote from [[Video - How to Be Correct About Everything All the Time]] beautifully captures our ignorance as humans.
When it comes to knowledge about t...
).

A major cognitive Problem when studying is the "Fluency illusion": The illusion of knowing hinders us when studyingThe illusion of knowing hinders us when studying
The authors of [[Book - Make it stick.. the science of successful learning]] highlight a common problem: Students tend to confuse familiarity with mastery of a topic.

This ''illusion of knowing" i...

According to the authors, the effects on studying are detrimental (making a point against student directed learning and flipped classrooms):

The paradox is that those students who employ the least effective study strategies overestimate their learning the most and, as a consequence of their misplaced confidence, they are not inclined to change their habits.

It follows that The most effective learning strategies are not intuitiveThe most effective learning strategies are not intuitive
[[Book - Make it stick.. the science of successful learning]] raises that point that students struggle to learn effectively, because the most effective learning strategies are counterintuitive at f...
.

To protect ourselves from the illusions about, frequent self testing is required, see Retrieval practice is an effective learning strategyRetrieval practice is an effective learning strategy
Retrieval practice, as described in [[Book - Make it stick.. the science of successful learning]]: Recalling facts, concepts, or events from memory.

The book pulls from many studies to show that g...