Alex Linschoten's Reviews > Make It Stick

Make It Stick by Peter C. Brown
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really liked it

In 'Make it Stick', the authors explain how to study, how to learn things for long-term retention, and how to tweak the school experience to encourage retention. The authors strive to make examples practical and applicable. Spaced-repetition software is never mentioned in the book -- in fact technology really isn't the focus -- but it's possible to read it as a love letter to Anki. (This would have been five stars but for it being slightly too long.)

Some key things I learnt:

- testing recall helps cement memories
- pure repetition (either rereading something or repeating a concept out loud multiple times) doesn't work, and could even harm you by giving a false sense of confidence/familiarity with the material.
- apparently some of the research also shows that a delay in the feedback (i.e. you don't get to find out how you did on the test at the exact same time as taking the test) is preferable to immediate feedback, even w/r/t types of skills (motor skills e.g.) that you'd think would reward immediate feedback.
- tests don't have to be digitally produced
- production tests (i.e. you have to supply the answer out of thin air) offer greater benefits than multiple-choice tests, but even multiple choice testing offers benefits when compared with no testing.
- the ideal situation is one in which you are 'reaching' in some way -- i.e. the test should be hard. If the test is easy, it's probably not delivering that much benefit.
- difficult tests (where you have to 'reach' further) help cement memories better than easy tests.
- interleaved testing is better than massed testing -- which is to say that instead of siloing all your biology tests together, doing them, then moving on to physics, then moving on to French (for example), you should really mix it all up so that you are switching context. It will be harder and much more frustrating, but the research suggests you'll emerge in the long-term with a much more flexible grasp of the materials.
- building scaffolding and mental maps is important for learning -- without the basic scaffolding of a subject, it's hard to hang new concepts and to expand your knowledge.

Again, not all of this was new to me, and it won't be to many readers, but this was a useful reminder. I shall be tweaking my learning regimen accordingly.
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Reading Progress

May 29, 2015 – Shelved
May 29, 2015 – Shelved as: to-read
August 16, 2015 – Started Reading
August 19, 2015 –
1.0%
August 19, 2015 –
7.0% "Shaping up to be the best book on long-term learning I've read all year, and I'm only done with the introduction."
August 20, 2015 –
14.0% "The first main chapter (aka love letter to Anki that never mentions its name) deals with the benefits to recall that come from testing. Some key things I learnt:\n \n - testing recall helps cement memories\n - pure repetition (either rereading something or repeating a concept out loud multiple times) doesn't work, and could even harm you by giving a false sense of confidence/familiarity with the material."
August 21, 2015 – Finished Reading

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