How Note Taking Can Help You Become an Expert - Deepstash
How Note Taking Can Help You Become an Expert

How Note Taking Can Help You Become an Expert

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Cognitive Flexibility Theory

Cognitive Flexibility Theory

Cognitive Flexibility Theory is a 30 year old learning theory that focuses on the question“how do experts deal with novelty?” . It's one thing to learn to to a certain thing to perfection, but how do you learn to produce new things?

4 key insights of CFT:

  1. CFT is Concerned With Ill-Structured Domains
  2. In Ill-Structured Domains, Cases Are As If Not More Important Than Concepts
  3. Experts construct a temporary schema on the fly, by combining fragments of previous cases.
  4. Experts an ‘adaptive worldview’: meaning that they do not think there is one root cause as explanation for a particular event

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Ill-Structured Domains

Ill-Structured Domains

An ill-structured domain is a domain where there are concepts, but the way those concepts are instantiated in the real world are hugely variable, and messy as hell. Business, medicine, arts ...

Ex ... heart attacks: A heart attack is a concept. It is a thing you can study in medical textbooks. But actual diagnosis of heart attacks can be hugely variable — it depends on the patient’s race, age, gender, case history, potential complications, and so on; some heart attacks present as indigestion initially, others may last days.

In these domains the experts look more like artist than scientists. 

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In Ill-Structured Domains, Cases Are As If Not More Important Than Concepts

In traditional education we are taught a concept, and then the examples that illustrate that concept are treated as disposable. In STEM fields you’ll see engineers evaluating quality of thinking with a dismissive “you’re not thinking from first principles”. 

But n an ill-structured domain, then reasoning from first principles is very difficult. And that experts in ill-structured domains reason by comparison to previous casesnot by reference to first principles.

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Using CFT

Using CFT

Get exposes to as many cases for each concept as is feasibly possible, so you have a large collection of fragments to assemble from. Then build bottoms up (addaptive).

Practically: 

  1. Pick a note taking app with backlinking capabilities.
  2. Start copying cases into your note taking app. Mark up particular passages with concepts or case features.
  3. Force to practice ‘schema assembly of fragments’. Use questions like “how is Case A like Case B but not like Case C” and “find surprising differences between cases that appear similar".

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CURATED BY

vladimir

Life-long learner. Passionate about leadership, entrepreneurship, philosophy, Buddhism & SF. Founder @deepstash.

How do you make learn in domains with fuzzy rules?

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