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Problem-solving refers to the process you use when you don’t know what the correct method is. One remedy for this problem is to start by studying examples or demonstrations of how to solve the problem.
This can help you understand the best methods to solve a problem before trying it yourself.
Retrieval practice is the process of testing yourself with a closed book. It lets you check your knowledge, and it is one of the most effective ways to learn.
A tension exists between the benefits of retrieval and studying examples.
The spacing effect refers to the benefit of spreading studying sessions out over time.
If we don’t know what type of problem we’re solving before we attempt it, we can only rely on the features of the problem itself. This alone makes our practice more closely approximate the real thing.
Problems don't come in neat packages divided by units in real life.
When you make a mistake, it’s important to figure out why. The worst thing to do is simply hope that the confusion will sort itself out through repetition.
Any time you face this type of mix-up, put the examples side-by-side so you can see what distinguishes them.
When learning a new method or problem-solving procedure, always walk through and explain each step to yourself. Repeated drills can help you memorize material but don’t always facilitate understanding. So when the format of the question changes slightly, you might not be able to adjust.
Effective practice is built on understanding.
For skills at the limits of your abilities, it’s impossible to monitor your performance and simultaneously improve it. Record yourself performing the skill and review it after.
You can focus all of your precious mental bandwidth on performing the task and only later analyze the effort
You are in the right ballpark when you are correct about 85% of the time. Less than that, and you are likely making the task too difficult, thus making learning less efficient (and more frustrating).
For skills with lumpier difficulty gradients, fine-tune the difficulty.
Seek out both types of feedback.
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