|Book Review| Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning


My favourite Youtuber Ali Abdaal introduced Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning as a book to improve his learning speed. The major lessons I learnt including:


1. When learning is harder, it is stronger and last longer. The more effort you have to extend to retrieve knowledge or skill, the more the practice of retrieval will entrench it. The added effort increases comprehension and learning. Effortful learning changes your brain, making new connections, building mental models, increasing your capacity.


2. Rising familiarly with a text and fluency in reading can create an illusion of mastery. Don't over-emphasize highlight, underlining, and re-reading 


3. Active Retrieval: Testing is a tool for learning. One, it helps you to know what you know and what you don't know. Second, recalling helps brain to reconsolidate the memory, which strengthens its connection to what you already know and make it easier for you to recall in the future. Like Aristotle once said: "exercise in repeatedly recalling a thing strengthens the memory". Low stakes testing helps dial down test anxiety among students by diversying the consequences over larger example. It helps instructors to identify gaps in students. Tests require learners to supply the answer like essay or short answer test, or simply practice with flashcards, appear to be more effective than simple recognition test like MCQs or T/F


4. Spaced repetition: When retrieval practice is spaced, allowing some forgetting to occur between tests, it leads to stronger long term retention than when it is massed. 


5. When you are asked to struggle with solving a problem before being shown how to solve it, the subsequent solution is better learned and more durably remembered. 


6. If the outline of lecture proceeds in a different order from the textbook passage, the effort to discern the main ideas and reconcile the discrepancy procedures better recall of the content. 


7. Process of learning: 

- Generation: The act of trying to answer a question or attempting to solve a problem rather than being presented with the information or solution 

- Reflection: retrieval, elaboration, and generation. One form of reflection can be "write to learn": express the main ideas in their own words and relate to other concepts covered in class or outside. 


8. Learning habits are beneficial includes: rule learning (extracting underlying principles or rules from new experiences) and structure building (singling out salient concepts from the less important information and link them into mental structure - memory palace). 


9. Students aim at performance goals while others strive towards learnings goals. While the first case works to validate your ability, others work to acquire new knowledge and skills. The prior limit their potential. The latter pick ever increasing challenges, interpret setbacks, to sharpen the focus, get more creative, and work harder. 



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