How to learn efficiently

Daniel Lemire, Weblog, Jan 02, 2015
Commentary by Stephen Downes

What's interesting about this post is the suggestion that efficient learning is the opposite of what we might think it is. Lemire first outlines three reasonable principles (quoted):

  • Seek the most difficult problems
  • Reflect on what you have supposedly learned
  • Avoid learning from a single source

This is in fact exactly what I have done most of my life (even in public school, where I frequently went well beyond the curriculum to create 'projects' devoted to any of a variety of topics). Then Lemire observes, "When studying, many people do not want to mix topics 'so as not to get confused'. ... What researchers have found is that interleaved practice is far superior. In interleaved practice, you intentionally mix up topics. ... Interleaved practice is exactly what a real project forces you to do."

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