CELT Teaching Tip: Desirable Difficulties Help Student Learning (February 2, 2017)

Students hold a number of misconceptions about learning. Many believe, for example, that the best way to remember something is to read it over and over again, or that the best way to learn multiple different topics is to study each of them one at a time. When students feel that a certain technique is effective for learning, it is usually because that technique increases immediate familiarity with the material, providing an intuitive sense that it has been learned well. In reality, however, techniques that encourage fast acquisition and familiarity often lead to fast forgetting.

Join CELT for a lively two-part workshop series around the book Make it Stick (registration is now closed for the spring series – CELT will be offering this series again in the near future – if you are interested email CELT). Workshop facilitators Shana and Cindy will review a number of evidence-based techniques that significantly improve students’ learning in their courses. Interestingly, these techniques are often regarded by students as ineffective because they reduce the intuitive feeling of learning and often encourage trial and error and an increased sense of effort invested. The techniques involving these “desirable difficulties” often lead to much greater long-term learning and flexibility of knowledge than the more intuitive (yet less effective) techniques preferred by students.

Part 1 of the series will discuss some of the research behind these learning techniques, why they work, and how they can be implemented in the classroom. Participants will then be invited to try these techniques in their courses and during Part 2 of the series, share their experiences. If you are unable to join this workshop series the book is available for check out at Parks Library or download the eBook via Park Library’s, Make it stick: The science for learning website.

We hope you will be able to join us and learn effective ways to make it stick!

Ann Marie VanDerZanden, Director
Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching