Make It Stick

2nd November 2018

Cheery Friday Greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Book of the Week

We recently had the opportunity to have breakfast with Peter Brown, the first author of the redoubtable Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, which we believe to be one of the very best books on learning currently in existence. So we took the opportunity to reread the book before our meeting.  Yes, Make It Stick holds up and is even better than we remembered—it’s a wonderful romp through the various techniques that are valuable in making your learning really stick.  What has impressed us is not only the scientific rigor of the work (thanks, Henry Roediger III and Mark McDaniel!) but also Peter’s in-depth explanations and wide-ranging examples—this is not a fluff job of a book. Peter’s a heckuva guy—stay tuned for a joining of forces in LHTL’s future projects.

Edsurge is doing an article on the kids book Learning How to Learnthey need teachers’ help!

The educational magazine Edsurge is doing an article on our Learning How to Learn book for youngsters.  They would love to hear from any teachers who are using the book in their classrooms.  If you are using the Learning How to Learn book for kids, please contact with some insights about how you’re using it (and feel free to copy Barb at

Using eye-tracking data to see how studying logic improves the ability to reason

Psychology researcher Silvia Bunge and her colleague Belén Guerra-Carrillo at UC Berkeley, have recently published an eye-poppingly original article in the npj Science of Learning:  “Eye gaze patterns reveal how reasoning skills improve with experience.”  Here’s a nice summary by Silvia in response to npj’s questions. “We found previously that studying for the LSAT – an exam that heavily taxes reasoning skills – strengthens the brain network that supports reasoning and reduces brain activity in a part of the brain that is active when participants carry out a cognitively demanding task. However, this work didn’t tell us in which way reasoning improved…[Using eye-tracking data, w]e found that the biggest change associated with Logic Games practice was increased efficiency in encoding the relevant relations (e.g., a balance scale showing that a green ball is heavier than a yellow one). We could not have drawn this conclusion from the behavioral data alone.”

This finding is important because it shows that specific types of learning are distinct in their ability to improve critical thinking skills—and we now have a sense of why.

190 universities just launched 600 free online courses. Here’s the full list.

Dhawal Shah of Class Central is on it in providing great information about free MOOCs.  Don’t miss his extensive list of courses—there’s bound to be something that’s perfect for your goals and interests.

Better ways to know whether students have mastered what they are learning

Here is a terrific presentation by Candace Thille of Stanford University: “The Science of Learning, Data, and Transformation in Higher Education.” This talk unpacks why you don’t want your students to just “understand” a concept. [Hat tip: Matthew Parson] It’s useful to watch Candace’s presentation in conjunction Professor Juan Quemada’s presentation “The AMMIL Methodology.” (The English version of the video is further down on the page.) AMMIL stands for “Active Meaningful Micro Inductive Learning”—it’s a methodology for creating good educational modules based on micro-objectives that are very similar to the unpacked “understanding” that Candace alludes to. In other words, Juan provides an easy-to-understand method for implementing Candace’s important ideas within a MOOC. He then goes on to give a more concrete feel for how the recordings were physically implemented, without expensive post-production, in the studio of Universidad Politécnica de Madrid. Barb was fortunate enough to meet Juan in Madrid—his programming MOOCs are amongst the most popular on MiríadaX, Latin America’s Largest MOOC Platform.

Longer videos are becoming more popular

Interestingly, we recently discussed video length with a producer from Crash Course (a series we really admire), and discovered that many video producers on YouTube are moving towards longer videos—20 or 30 minutes in length, because that’s what people are watching and enjoying. These findings go along with that of Larry Lagerstrom and his colleague’s research findings related to “The Myth of the Six-Minute Rule: Student Engagement with Online Videos.”

Online comic on how to boost memory

Here’s a very cute interactive comic, perfect for kids, that explains how to improve memory with spaced practice. As one researcher has commented “It’s a bit fast and loose with the details (she seems to care more about teaching the procedures than explaining mechanisms of learning and memory), but still kind of fun and useful.”

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

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