19 - Illusions of Competenceدوره: Coursera – Learning How to Learn / درس 19
19 - Illusions of Competence
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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
One of the most common approaches for
trying to learn material
from a book or from notes is simply to
But psychologist, Jeffrey Karpicke, has
shown that this approach
is actually much less productive than
another, very simple, technique.
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
Science, provided solid evidence along
Students studied a scientific text and
then practiced it,
by recalling as much of the information as
Then they re-studied the text and recalled
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
learned far more and at a much deeper
level than they did using any other
Including simply rereading the text a
number of times.
Or drawing concept maps that supposedly
the relationships in the materials under
This improved learning comes whether
a formal test, or just informally test
This gives an important reminder.
When we retrieve knowledge, we’re not just
being mindless robots.
The retrieval process itself enhances deep
and helps us to begin forming chunks.
It’s almost as if the recall process helps
little neural hooks, that we can hang our
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
As you begin to chunk the concept, you
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
The rest of your working memory is left
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
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
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
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
or a textbook, is that when they have the
or Google open right in front of them, it
the illusion that the material is also in
But it’s not, because it can be easier to
look at the book instead of
recalling, students persist in their
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
In some sense, that’s what recall is
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
something new you can often take in
for the room and the space around you
at the time you were originally learning
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
room being different from where you
originally learned the material.
I’m Barbara Oakley, thanks for learning
Mistakes are very valuable to make in that
you’re little, it, it.
Go back to the start of this one.
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