make it stick – The Science of Successful Learning
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Chapter 4 — Embrace Difficulties


Short-term impediments that make practice more effortful (like retrieval that’s spaced, varied, or interleaved) are “desirable difficulties” because they make for stronger learning Parachute training of Mia Blundetto, U.S. Marine Corps, illustrates how the introduction of certain difficulties during learning makes mastery stronger and longer lasting. Good thing, too: when Mia threw herself out the jump door of a C130 troop transport at 1,250 feet and plummeted onto another soldier’s inflated parachute, Mia knew what to do – and did it. and memory. Arduous retrieval both strengthens the routes to memory and makes the memory pliable again, updating it with new information and more recent learning. Effortful practice helps integrate related ideas or a sequence of motor skills into a meaningful whole that can be applied automatically in the future. Examples are complex chess moves, or the perceptions and movements required to drive a car. To be desirable, difficulties must be ones the learner can overcome.


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