Learning is more efficient when it is effortful

One of the main points of 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



is that learning is actually deeper and more durable when it is harder

the more effort you have to expend to retrieve knowledge or skill, the more the practice of retrieval will entrench it.

Effortful studying is referred to as "desirable difficulty" (coined by Elizabeth and Robert Bjork).

This notion is counterintuitive to the way students approach studying. In general, school level education is geared towards making studying as easy and effortless as possible. This strategy might actually be harmful, given the evidence that the book presents.

The benefit of effortful studying is one of the reasons that 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...
and Learning is more efficient when it is varied and you practice interleavingLearning is more efficient when it is varied and you practice interleaving
in [[Book - Make it stick.. the science of successful learning]], it is argued that interleaving different kinds of practice of a skill (or even a different skill) leads to better learning outcomes...
, as both of these methods make learning more effortful (what is the implied direction here? Bidirectional?).

Examples that the book mentions:

  • Baseball players at Cal Poly with randomized training regimens struggled harder during training but showed larger improvements
  • When text is more difficult to read (blurry, has left out letters, unusual typography) reading speed is slowed, but readers remember more
    • Mcdaniel, M.A., Einstein, G.O. & Lollis, T. Qualitative and quantitative considerations in encoding difficulty effects. Memory & Cognition 16, 8–14 (1988). https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03197740
    • Diemand-Yauman C, Oppenheimer DM, Vaughan EB. Fortune favors the bold (and the Italicized): effects of disfluency on educational outcomes. Cognition. 2011 Jan;118(1):111-5. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2010.09.012. Epub 2010 Oct 30. PMID: 21040910.
  • If an outline matches a text, we remember less then when the outline mismatches the structure of the following text
    • Mannes, S. M., & Kintsch, W. (1987)

On the other hand, too much effort hinders the learning process and is referred to as "undesirable difficulty". According to Elizabeth and Robert Bjork, the learner needs ho have the background knowledge and skills to respond to the retrieval processes triggered by the difficulty (TODO: Relate flow research by the csikszentmihalyi).