Welcome back to the scope of science. I’m Kurtis Baute. This week I’m going to be talking more about learning and some of the lessons I learned from the book Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning. Now last week I talked a bit about four reasons why learning probably isn’t as easy as you think it is. This week, I’m going to be talking about three things that will enhance the ways that you study. The first tip I learned about Make it Stick is about the testing effect. Testing yourself is a very simple and effective study method, and it can be as formal or informal as you like. For example, instead of just taking notes on what a lecturer is saying, try to translate what they’re saying into questions, and then go back and answer those questions. Answer them later that day or the next week or in a month so you can quiz yourself. You can go and find tests on the internet or provided by your instructor or in the back of those chapters of all those books. You know how they have those sections that say, you know, study, study problems, practice problems? It turns out that those are actually useful. In fact, studies have shown that doing practice problems is a more effective way to learn something than is rereading the material. So instead of wasting your time rereading material, spend that time doing tests and doing practice quizzes. If you ask yourself the questions and look for the answers before you even try to learn the topic, you’ll actually learn it better. Now don’t just test yourself before and after learning material. You can actually replace lessons entirely with testing. This entire learning program structured around this idea like Duolingo, which has helped me learn a lot of German. The second tip I took out of Make it Stick is interleaving. Let’s say you have three topics to learn about, and you’ve already taken to heart my first tip on using testing. So to learn about these three topics, you’ve formed 10 questions on each topic. Now you might think that it would be most effective to study one topic at a time, and once you’ve understood the one topic, move on to the next, and once you’ve understood the second topic finally move on to the third. But scientific studies about studying have shown us that if you actually just mix up all of those questions in a random order, it’ll be more effective in helping you learn it think about how you’re actually tested on material. Either at an exam or in real life, those questions don’t come in blocks. So why do we study in blocks? Lastly, and this is my personal favorite, Struggle. And know that struggling helps. If you’re about to teach two groups of people a difficult concept and before doing that you tell one of those groups of people that the concept they’re about to learn may be challenging to them, but that by struggling and by having being challenged, they’re actually going to learn more, then that group that knows the challenge is a good thing. They’ll actually learn more than the group that you didn’t say that to. Similarly, say you have two different groups of people, and you give them both some challenging questions after you’ve read over their answers. You congratulate both of them, but you congratulate the groups in different ways. If you congratulate one group by saying good work, you did a great job, and the other group by saying you tried really hard, and that’s what matters, the group of people that you congratulated just for trying will actually take bigger challenges in the future, while the group that you congratulated for success will be more risk adverse. And since you need to stay challenged to learn something, the group that will take bigger challenges will learn more than the other group. To sum up, test yourself, interleave your practice. I know that struggling is good for you. So that’s it for this Thursday. I hope you learned something, and if you want to enhance and solidify what you’ve learned in this little lesson, then you can join the discussion in the comment section below. Some great discussions came out of my video from last week, Four Reasons Why Learning Probably Isn’t as Easy as You Think. [reading from computer] Dasky from Reddit said, “I actually noticed this in my first computer science class four concepts. I’d keep reading the book and four programs I have a lot of practice when test time came around I was awesome at putting together my programs, but I struggled with the concept questions. I made up practice tests to quiz myself on the concepts after that.” [Curtis] Apparently dasky already had this video figured out. I’m really excited that a few of you said that you’re going to read the book Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning. It is awesome and I hope you enjoy that little adventure. Next Thursday, I’m going to be taking a much more literal approach to the concept of making it stick, and I’ll be making a video about blue tack or sticky tack. So that’s it. Stay challenged.