Home Psychology Make It Stick

Make It Stick
Read in 18 min.
Listen in 22 min.
Learn the key ideas of the book by Peter Christopher Brown , Henry Roediger III , Mark McDaniel

Make It Stick

How to develop an effective learning strategy

As human beings, we share a common goal: to study and acquire new knowledge. Many widely used techniques, however, are not entirely effective, as they are often based merely on intuition and feelings. By understanding the mechanisms of the human mind and memory, we can optimise this process and make it truly beneficial. Make it Stick presents principles and strategies based on scientific research and studies that help students of all ages, teachers and all lifelong learners to develop a solid, reliable and personalised learning strategy.

Make It Stick
Read in 18 min.
Listen in 22 min.

The most effective learning strategies are not intuitive: this is why we need to rethink old practices

Much remains to be known about the processes that govern learning, but studies and research have clearly shown that certain traditional methods are far from effective. The application of cognitive psychology in education has led to new and important reflections on the topic that underline the need for change, especially in the approach. For example, most people believe that learning is somehow automatic, that it happens naturally after repeating a concept numerous times. They also think of learning as univocal and almost entirely passive, a simple transferal of knowledge from a teacher to a learner, or from a book to the mind of a reader. Nothing could be further from the truth: learning can only ever be active and is mainly based on unintuitive mechanisms, which enable connections to be made in the human brain that retrieve information quickly when it is needed. 

Another problem concerns difficulties in making judgements: evaluating what we already know can be hard because we tend to do this based on feelings rather than objective parametres. Effort and difficulties are seen as negative, but they are actually crucial to gaining deeper and more consolidated knowledge. 

It is also true that everyone has personal preferences when it comes to learning, because we all receive and process information differently: so each person needs to find their own strategy and develop their own method.


The key ideas of "Make It Stick"

The most effective learning strategies are not intuitive: this is why we need to rethink old practices
Rereading and rewriting does not result in consolidated knowledge: to achieve this, we must reflect and re-elaborate concepts
Effective learning is achieved by retrieving concepts, but it is important to space it out
Tests are learning tools that help consolidate acquired knowledge and identify weaknesses to overcome
It is better to change up different practice activities, rather than concentrate on just one
Information coded by the brain is stabilised during the consolidation process that characterises long-term memory
Remembering and forgetting are two sides of the same coin, and both are necessary to acquire new knowledge
Desirable difficulties: interference and mistakes are an important part of the learning process
The human brain makes mistakes because of misperceptions and memory distortions
The most effective learning model takes individual differences into account
Take-home message
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