24th March 2021
Cheery Friday Greetings to our Learning How to Learners!
Book of the Week
CorkScrew Solutions: Problem Solving with a Twist, by Clarke Ching. We love Clarke Ching’s writing, so we’d probably read a book of his even if it was about dirt. But in fact, this latest book by Clarke is a delightful, quick, and highly informative read about how to solve problems when any approach you take to solving the problem has a major drawback. You’ll find a valuable set of tools—enjoy!
Living a stress-free life may have benefits, but also a downside
We’ve long wondered that people with stressful jobs where you have to think quickly, like emergency room physicians, often seem to be more on the ball cognitively. It’s almost a chicken and egg situation—do they seem smarter because they’re naturally smarter (there’s a lot of filtering through the process of becoming a doctor, after all). Or do they seem smarter because the job itself makes them smarter? This informative press release about new research sheds light on this process. Key grafs: “Stress is a universal human experience that almost everyone deals with from time to time. But a new study found that not only do some people report feeling no stress at all, but that there may be downsides to not experiencing stress.
“The researchers found that people who reported experiencing no stressors were more likely to experience better daily well-being and fewer chronic health conditions. However, they were also more likely to have lower cognitive function, as well.
“David M. Almeida, professor of human development and family studies at Penn State, said the study suggests that small, daily stressors could potentially benefit the brain, despite being an inconvenience.”
A conversation between Barb and concert pianist Monika Mašanauskaitė
This podcast, with exceptional pianist Monika Mašanauskaitė, dives into the important differences between the procedural and declarative learning systems. Among other topics, we explore whether cramming is possible in procedural learning.
Stanford researchers identify four causes for ‘Zoom fatigue’ and their simple fixes
Here is one of the most informative articles we’ve seen on why Zoom fatigue happens, and how to avoid it:
“Excessive amounts of close-up eye contact is highly intense… Both the amount of eye contact we engage in on video chats, as well as the size of faces on screens is unnatural.
“In a normal meeting, people will variously be looking at the speaker, taking notes or looking elsewhere. But on Zoom calls, everyone is looking at everyone, all the time. A listener is treated nonverbally like a speaker, so even if you don’t speak once in a meeting, you are still looking at faces staring at you. The amount of eye contact is dramatically increased. “Social anxiety of public speaking is one of the biggest phobias that exists in our population,” Bailenson said. “When you’re standing up there and everybody’s staring at you, that’s a stressful experience.”
“Another source of stress is that, depending on your monitor size and whether you’re using an external monitor, faces on videoconferencing calls can appear too large for comfort. “In general, for most setups, if it’s a one-on-one conversation when you’re with coworkers or even strangers on video, you’re seeing their face at a size which simulates a personal space that you normally experience when you’re with somebody intimately,” Bailenson said.
“When someone’s face is that close to ours in real life, our brains interpret it as an intense situation that is either going to lead to mating or to conflict. “What’s happening, in effect, when you’re using Zoom for many, many hours is you’re in this hyper-aroused state,” Bailenson said.
“Solution: Until the platforms change their interface, Bailenson recommends taking Zoom out of the full-screen option and reducing the size of the Zoom window relative to the monitor to minimize face size, and to use an external keyboard to allow an increase in the personal space bubble between oneself and the grid.”
How to Approach Peer-Assessed Assignments—The Problem of Cheating.
This useful checklist by MOOC maven Pat Bowden gives insight into how to write peer-assessed assignments. Pat has also written an outstanding article describing the problems with cheating/plagiarizing on online courses. This problem started out bad when MOOCs first began, and has only been getting worse since. We suspect that the first MOOC platform to successfully solve the cheating and plagiarizing problem in more than a simply cosmetic way will see the value of their certificates increase significantly.
Five Tips for Improving Memory and Recall
Here’s an overview article by Barb in DIY Genius on staying focused and being productive on the job and while learning. Key grafs:
“Just like some people are taller and some people are shorter, people also differ in making long-term memory links. For some people, it’s simple, and for others, it takes more time and effort. Personally, I don’t have a very good long-term memory, so I have to go over something many times to remember it, which makes spaced repetition invaluable to me.
“With spaced repetition, you’ll go over something 5-10 times before you put it away, and then you’ll go over it again a few more times the next day. This requires you to practice recalling information over a longer time, strengthening those connections in your memory.
“If you want to remember something for a year, you probably want to repeat it until you’ve got it down pretty well. The goal is to call it back to mind just as you’re about to forget it, so maybe you would practice recalling it every few weeks or so. This kind of spaced repetition is an excellent tactic for ensuring you’ve got that information stored in your long-term memory.”
That’s all for this week. Have a happy week in Learning How to Learn!
Barb, Terry, and the entire Learning How to Learn team
- Get in early on the upcoming critically acclaimed Uncommon Sense Teaching!
- Get the course recommended text, A Mind for Numbers!
- And Learning How to Learn, a book for kids and parents.