[SOUND]. In this video, we're going to talk about some essential ideas in getting your learning on track. The importance of recall, illusions of competence in learning. Mini-testing and the value of making mistakes. One of the most common approaches for trying to learn material from a book or from notes is simply to reread it. But psychologist, Jeffrey Karpicke, has shown that this approach is actually much less productive than another, very simple, technique. Recall. After you've read the material, simply look away, and see what you can recall from the material you've just read. Karpicke's research, published in the Journal Science, provided solid evidence along these lines. Students studied a scientific text and then practiced it, by recalling as much of the information as they could. Then they re-studied the text and recalled it again. That is, they tried to remember the key ideas, once more. The results, in the same amount of time, by simply practising and recalling the material students learned far more and at a much deeper level than they did using any other approach. Including simply rereading the text a number of times. Or drawing concept maps that supposedly enrich the relationships in the materials under study. This improved learning comes whether students take a formal test, or just informally test themselves. This gives an important reminder. When we retrieve knowledge, we're not just being mindless robots. The retrieval process itself enhances deep learning, and helps us to begin forming chunks. It's almost as if the recall process helps build in little neural hooks, that we can hang our thinking on. Even more of a surprise to researchers, was that the students themselves predicted that simply reading and recalling the materials, wasn't the best way to learn. They thought, concept mapping, drawing diagrams that show the relationship between the concepts would be the best. But if you're trying to build connections between chunks, before the basic chunks are embedded in the brain, it doesn't work as well. It's like trying to learn advanced strategy in chess, before you even understand the basic concepts of how the pieces move. Using recall, mental retrieval of the key ideas, rather than passive rereading, will make your study time more focused and effective. The only time rereading text seems to be effective, is if you let time pass between the rereading, so that it becomes more of an exercise in spaced repetition. One way to think about this type of learning and recall, is shown right here. As we mentioned earlier, there are four or so slots, in working memory. When you're first learning how to understand a concept, or technique to solve a problem, your entire working memory is involved in the process. As shown by this sort of, mad tangle of connections between the four slots of working memory. As you begin to chunk the concept, you will feel it connecting more easily and smoothly in your mind. Once the concept is chunked, it takes up only one slot in working memory. It simultaneously becomes one smooth strand that's easy to follow, and to use to make new connections. The rest of your working memory is left clear. That dangling strand of chunked material has, in some sense, increased the amount of information available to your working memory. It's as if the slot in working memory is a hyperlink that's been connected to a great big web page. Now, you understand, why it is key that you are the one doing the problem solving or mastering the concept. Not whoever wrote the solution manual, or book, on whatever subject you're studying. If you just look at the solution, for example, then tell yourself. Oh yeah, I see why they did that. Then the solution is not really yours. You've done almost nothing to knit those concepts into your own underlying neural circuitry. Merely glancing at a solution and thinking you truly know it yourself is one of the most common illusions of competence in learning. You must have the information persisting in your memory if you're to master the material well enough to do well on tests and to think creatively with it. In a related thing, you may be surprised to learn that highlighting and underlining must be done very carefully. Otherwise it can not only be ineffective, but also misleading. It's as if, making lots of motions with your hand can fool you into thinking you've placed the concept in your brain. If you do mark up the text, try to look for main ideas before making any marks. And try to keep your underlining or highlighting to a minimum. One sentence or less per paragraph. On the other hand, words or notes in a margin that synthesize key concepts are a very good idea. Jeff Karpicke, the same researcher who's done such important work related to recall, has also done research on a related topic. Illusions of competence in learning. The reason students like to keep rereading their notes or a textbook, is that when they have the book or Google open right in front of them, it provides the illusion that the material is also in their brains. But it's not, because it can be easier to look at the book instead of recalling, students persist in their illusions studying in a way that just isn't very effective. This is a reminder that just wanting to learn the material, and spending a lot of time with it, doesn't guarantee you'll actually learn it. A super helpful way to make sure you're learning and not fooling yourself with illusions of competence, is to test yourself on whatever you're learning. In some sense, that's what recall is actually doing. Allowing you to see whether or not you really grasp an idea. If you make a mistake in what you are doing, it's actually a very good thing. You want to try not to repeat your mistakes, of course, but mistakes are very valuable to make in your little self tests before high stakes real tests. Because they allow you to make repairs and you're thinking flaws bit by bit mistakes help correct your thinking, so that you can learn better and do better. As you know now recall is a powerful tool. But here's another tip, recalling material when you are outside your usual place of study can also help you strengthen your grasp of the material. You don't realize it, but when you are learning something new you can often take in subliminal cues for the room and the space around you at the time you were originally learning the material. This can throw you off when you take tests because you often take tests in a room that's different from the room you were learning in. By recalling and thinking about the material when you are in various physical environment, you become independent of the cues from any one given location. That helps you avoid the problem of the test room being different from where you originally learned the material. I'm Barbara Oakley, thanks for learning about learning. [BLANK_AUDIO] Mistakes are very valuable to make in that you're little, it, it. [LAUGH]. Okay. Go back to the start of this one.