Interleaving: Varying your subjects

When you work on a variety of things at once, you're interleaving.

 If you're trying to understand a subject — from the basics of economics to hitting a pitch — you're going to learn better if you mix up your examples.

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Problem Solving

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"Learning is deeper and more durable when it's effortful... Learning that's easy is like writing in sand, here today and gone tomorrow."

 -  Make It Stick: The Science Of Successful Learning 

Retrieval is so effective is that it strengthens the neural pathways associated with a given concept.

When you're attempting to recall an idea, method, or technique from memory, you're retrieving. Flash cards are a great example: They force you to recall an idea from memory, unlike a technique like highlighting where you're not burning anything into your brain. 

... to what you already know.

When you try to put a new idea into your own words, you're elaborating.

For example, if you're in physics class and trying to understand heat transfer, try to tie the concept into your real-life experiences, say, by imagining how a warm cup of coffee disperses heat into your hands.

When you try to give an answer before it's given to you, you're generating.

In an academic setting, you could work finding your own answers before class starts. In a professional setting, you could supply your own ideas when you're stuck before talking with your boss.

When you take a few moments to review what happened with a project or meeting, you're reflecting.

Reflective writing is super powerful. You might ask yourself a few questions: What went well? Where can you improve? What does it remind you of? Reflective writing to be super powerful.

When you're using an acronym or image to recall something, you're using a mnemonic. 

Example: The hall of fame includes abbreviations — Roy G. Biv for the colors of the spectrum ( Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet) — and rhyming, like "in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue."

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RELATED IDEAS

Re-reading doesn't help

Don't just re-read your notes. When you first read, you extract a lot of information, but when you do it the second time, you read with a sense of 'I know this, I know this.'

This gives you the illusion that you know the material very well, when in fact there are gaps.

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IDEAS

2 kinds of prior knowledge

... you need two kinds of prior knowledge:

  • Knowledge about the subject at hand (math, history, or programming).
  • Knowledge about how learning actually works.

This involves mixing different approaches, concepts, and viewpoints into your learning. It helps you solidify your understanding and promotes creativity and flexibility.

Why it works: While it feels more difficult, if you spread out your study over a period of time, you can remember it better.

How to apply it: Read several books simultaneously. Start a new one before you finish another. You want it to feel difficult because then it's more effective.

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