Tag Archives: desirable difficulty

Don’t Just Do This Thing; Think This Way

Do hard-to-read fonts improve learning? The answer is: that’s the wrong question. Instead, we should ask: how can we set the right level of difficulty as students learn material? And: are hard-to-read fonts a useful tool in getting to that level. Only the classroom teacher can answer those questions. Continue reading



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Putting Research to Work in the Classroom: Success?

Some study habits have been shown to work in psychology labs. Do they work in college classrooms? A recent study shows that “retrieval practice” clearly helps students learn. The findings on “the spacing effect” are harder to interpret… Continue reading



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The Best Way to Take Notes: More Feisty Debate

When teachers contemplate asking students to take longhand notes, we should think about the level of desirable difficulty this strategy creates. We should also beware the working memory challenges inherent in note-taking, especially on complex material. Continue reading



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Pro Tips: How To Think Like A Cognitive Scientist

A short, “intensive” college course might seem like a good idea. However, essential cognitive science principles suggest that students will learn less in them. Researchers consistently show that it’s better to spread learning out over time, and that easy learning doesn’t last. Continue reading



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A Fresh Desirable Difficulty?

Robert Bjork and Elizabeth Ligon Bjork have argued that the right kind of difficulty can facilitate ultimate learning. These difficulties–“desirable difficulties”–require extra cognitive engagement, and thereby promote long-term memory formation. Presenters at Learning and the Brain conferences often talk about



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