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Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Peter C. Brown
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“Trying to solve a problem before being taught the solution leads to better learning, even when errors are made in the attempt.”
Peter C. Brown, Make It Stick
“Practice that’s spaced out, interleaved with other learning, and varied produces better mastery, longer retention, and more versatility. But these benefits come at a price: when practice is spaced, interleaved, and varied, it requires more effort. You feel the increased effort, but not the benefits the effort produces. Learning feels slower from this kind of practice, and you don’t get the rapid improvements and affirmations you’re accustomed to seeing from massed practice.”
Peter C. Brown, Make It Stick
“Rereading has three strikes against it. It is time consuming. It doesn’t result in durable memory. And it often involves a kind of unwitting self-deception, as growing familiarity with the text comes to feel like mastery of the content. The hours immersed in rereading can seem like due diligence, but the amount of study time is no measure of mastery.”
Peter C. Brown, Make It Stick
“Many teachers believe that if they can make learning easier and faster, the learning will be better. Much research turns this belief on its head: when learning is harder, it’s stronger and lasts longer. It’s widely believed by teachers, trainers, and coaches that the most effective way to master a new skill is to give it dogged, single-minded focus, practicing over and over until you’ve got it down. Our faith in this runs deep, because most of us see fast gains during the learning phase of massed practice. What’s apparent from the research is that gains achieved during massed practice are transitory and melt away quickly.”
Peter C. Brown, Make It Stick
“The process of learning something often starts out feeling disorganized and unwieldy; the most important aspects are not always salient. Consolidation helps organize and solidify learning”
Peter C. Brown, Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning
“One of the most striking research findings is the power of active retrieval—testing—to strengthen memory, and that the more effortful the retrieval, the stronger the benefit.”
Peter C. Brown, Make It Stick
“Notwithstanding the pitfalls of standardized testing, what we really ought to ask is how to do better at building knowledge and creativity, for without knowledge you don’t have the foundation for the higher-level skills of analysis, synthesis, and creative problem solving. As the psychologist Robert Sternberg and two colleagues put it, “one cannot apply what one knows in a practical manner if one does not know anything to apply.”12”
Peter C. Brown, Make It Stick
“It’s not the failure that’s desirable, it’s the dauntless effort despite the risks, the discovery of what works and what doesn’t that sometimes only failure can reveal.”
Peter C. Brown, Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning
“It’s not just what you know, but how you practice what you know that determines how well the learning serves you later.”
Peter C. Brown, Make It Stick
“Retrieval practice—recalling facts or concepts or events from memory—is a more effective learning strategy than review by rereading. Flashcards are a simple example. Retrieval strengthens the memory and interrupts forgetting. A single, simple quiz after reading a text or hearing a lecture produces better learning and remembering than rereading the text or reviewing lecture notes.”
Peter C. Brown, Make It Stick
“The act of retrieving learning from memory has two profound benefits. One, it tells you what you know and don’t know, and therefore where to focus further study to improve the areas where you’re weak. Two, recalling what you have learned causes your brain to reconsolidate the memory, which strengthens its connections to what you already know and makes it easier for you to recall in the future.”
Peter C. Brown, Make It Stick
“The stories we create to understand ourselves become the narratives of our lives, explaining the accidents and choices that have brought us where we are: what I'm good at, what I care about most, and where I'm headed.”
Peter C. Brown, Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning
“Rereading text and massed practice of a skill or new knowledge are by far the preferred study strategies of learners of all stripes, but they’re also among the least productive.”
Peter C. Brown, Make It Stick
“This presumption by the professor that her students will readily follow something complex that appears fundamental in her own mind is a metacognitive error, a misjudgment of the matchup between what she knows and what her students know.”
Peter C. Brown, Make It Stick
“Pitting the learning of basic knowledge against the development of creative thinking is a false choice. Both need to be cultivated. The stronger one’s knowledge about the subject at hand, the more nuanced one’s creativity can be in addressing a new problem. Just as knowledge amounts to little without the exercise of ingenuity and imagination, creativity absent a sturdy foundation of knowledge builds a shaky house.”
Peter C. Brown, Make It Stick
“Durable, robust learning requires that we do two things. First, as we recode and consolidate new material from short-term memory into long-term memory, we must anchor it there securely. Second, we must associate the material with a diverse set of cues that will make us adept at recalling the knowledge later. Having effective retrieval cues is an aspect of learning that often goes overlooked. The task is more than committing knowledge to memory. Being able to retrieve it when we need it is just as important.”
Peter C. Brown, Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning
“Spaced and interleaved exposure characterizes most of humans’ normal experience.”
Peter C. Brown, Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning
“It’s thought that this heightened sensitivity to similarities and differences during interleaved practice leads to the encoding of more complex and nuanced representations of the study material—a better understanding of how specimens or types of problems are distinctive and why they call for a different interpretation or solution.”
Peter C. Brown, Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning
“In testing, being required to supply an answer rather than select from multiple choice options often provides stronger learning benefits. Having to write a short essay makes them stronger still. Overcoming these mild difficulties is a form of active learning, where students engage in higher-order thinking tasks rather than passively receiving knowledge conferred by others.”
Peter C. Brown, Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning
“For success everything must go right, but by contrast, failure can be attributed to any number of external causes”
Peter C. Brown, Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning
“How ably you can explain a text is an excellent cue for judging comprehension, because you must recall the salient points from memory, put them into your own words, and explain why they are significant—how they relate to the larger subject.”
Peter C. Brown, Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning
“Knowledge is more durable if it’s deeply entrenched, meaning that you have firmly and thoroughly comprehended a concept, it has practical importance or keen emotional weight in your life, and it is connected with other knowledge that you hold in memory.”
Peter C. Brown, Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning
“The truth is that we’re all hardwired to make errors in judgment. Good judgment is a skill one must acquire, becoming an astute observer of one’s own thinking and performance. We start at a disadvantage for several reasons. One is that when we’re incompetent, we tend to overestimate our competence and see little reason to change. Another is that, as humans, we are readily misled by illusions, cognitive biases, and the stories we construct to explain the world around us and our place within it. To become more competent, or even expert, we must learn to recognize competence when we see it in others, become more accurate judges of what we ourselves know and don’t know, adopt learning strategies that get results, and find objective ways to track our progress.”
Peter C. Brown, Make It Stick
“Pay attention to the cues you’re using to judge what you have learned. Whether something feels familiar or fluent is not always a reliable indicator of learning. Neither is your level of ease in retrieving a fact or a phrase on a quiz shortly after encountering it in a lecture or text. (Ease of retrieval after a delay, however, is a good indicator of learning.) Far better is to create a mental model of the material that integrates the various ideas across a text, connects them to
what you already know, and enables you to draw inferences.”
Peter C. Brown, Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning
“In another surprise, when letters are omitted from words in a text, requiring the reader to supply them, reading is slowed, and retention improves.”
Peter C. Brown, Make It Stick
“We are poor judges of when we are learning well and when we’re not. When the going is harder and slower and it doesn’t feel productive, we are drawn to strategies that feel more fruitful, unaware that the gains from these strategies are often
temporary.”
Peter C. Brown, Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning
“At a minimum, Larsen would like to see something done to interrupt the forgetting: give a quiz at the end of a conference and follow it with spaced retrieval practice. “Make quizzing a standard part of the culture and the curriculum. You just know every week you’re going to get in your email your ten questions that you need to work through.”
Peter C. Brown, Make It Stick
“Each of us has a large basket of resources in the form of aptitudes, prior knowledge, intelligence, interests, and sense of personal empowerment that shape how we learn and how we overcome our shortcomings. Some of these differences matter a lot—for example, our ability to abstract underlying principles from new experiences and to convert new knowledge into mental structures. Other differences we may think count for a lot, for example having a verbal or visual learning style, actually don’t.”
Peter C. Brown, Make It Stick
“When you space out practice at a task and get a little rusty between sessions, or you interleave the practice of two or more subjects, retrieval is harder and feels less productive, but the effort produces longer lasting learning and enables more versatile application of it in later settings.”
Peter C. Brown, Make It Stick
“In virtually all areas of learning, you build better mastery when you use testing as a tool to identify and bring up your areas of weakness.”
Peter C. Brown, Make It Stick

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