Make it Stick!

The Science of Successful Learning by Peter C. Brown, Henry L Roediger III, Make A McDaniel

Here are three techniques that you can start with your students this week:

  1. Give students lots of opportunity to practice the retrieval of new learning. For example, regular low-stakes quizzes.
  2. Space out retrieval practice over time. (Make your homework assignments primarily mixed review with just a few problems with new learning)
  3. Interleave the study of different types of problems. This requires students to make distinctions and stronger neural connections. For example, study and practice retrieval of volumes of solids together, rather than separate into prisms, spheres, pyramids, cones.

And, explain to students how learning works:

  • Difficulties in learning make the learning stronger and better remembered.  
  • Easy learning is often superficial and soon forgotten.  
  • When learning is effortful, it changes the brain, making new connections and increasing intellectual ability.  
  • You learn better when you wrestle with new problems (before you have been shown the solutions)
  • Striving, by its nature, often results in setbacks, and setbacks often provide info needed to adjust strategies to achieve mastery