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Self-Regulated Learning: Beliefs, Techniques, and Illusions [pdf] (excaliburtsa.org.uk)
105 points by talonx on July 5, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 13 comments

Some highlights: Most of this research is on college students who are currently in the context of institution-regulated learning. Spaced testing and information retrieval improves later retrieval even for items that people believe they have already learned. Massing (including cramming) helps, but more learning is achieved in the same amount of time by interleaving -- alternating between material. For example, the French mathematics curriculum with algebra and geometry learned in alternating weeks over two years, probably works better than American curriculum of one year of geometry and a different year of algebra. Similarly, the semester system probably produces more learning that the quarter system, and intensive blocks of one course taught in 3 weeks is probably worst for students. Perceptions of how easy things are guide perceptions of learning success, but difficulty is desirable, because it is correlated with more learning. People under-estimate how much they will learn when they invest time on studying and under-estimate how much they forget over time. Guessing at an answer before learning the answer improves learning. People can self-teach to the test: preparing themselves to succeed on certification exams or interview questions without learning material well. Americans (and others?) overestimate the role of individual learning ability differences and underestimate the role of cultural, family, and formal instruction on how to learn.

So a summary of general tips for learning would be:

- Spaced learning (shorter learning sessions with breaks)

- Interleaved learning (mixing different to-be-learned materials, instead of focusing on a single topic or subject for longer periods)

- Trying to organize the learning material in such a way that the new material builds on the earlier acquired knowledge, which forces recalling and reinforces the earlier acquired knowledge

Anything else?

EDIT: format

"We need to understand, too, that our capacity for storing to-be-learned information or procedures is essentially unlimited. In fact, storing information in human memory appears to create capacity—that is, opportunities for additional linkages and storage—rather than use it up." (page 420)

What are the sources and/or studies that justify this claim?

Cognitive Load Theory [1] breaks down our mental processes as storing schemata (information) in long-term memory. As of now, this is thought to be unlimited as its been difficult to disprove. Short-term memory, or working memory, involves retreival of information from long-term memory. Faster retreival is what we'd consider expertise. While long-term memory is used for the storage of knowledge, the actual information processing during problem-solving takes place in short-term.

Unlike long-term memory, working memory has a limited capacity and duration. This limits the number of schema (information) that can be managed at one time. CLT was originally designed to describe the interconnected-ness of worked examples when it comes to learning. Visual elements should have context, otherwise you are imposing more things for the mind to process (for example, an unnecessary puppy on a PowerPoint would require the mind to process its a puppy, determine it is not relevant to the information, and continue to ignore it). Long-term is uneffected by this process, but the stress imposed in working memory requires effort to maintain.

To answer the question of "What are the sources and/or studies that justify this claim?" - that's what modern Psychology is trying to figure out.

[1] https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C34&q=cog...

studies like this: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160120201224.h...

They essentially say the brain can hold approx. 2.5 petabytes. I don't think this can be measured accurately (or that it makes sense to translate it to bytes) due to the nature of neural networks, but it indicates that it's huge.

Other studies say it's around 500.000 "thought objects" (whatever that means) that you can hold in your long-term memory. But outliers like Rainman and others suggest that this is not necessarily the limit.

>> can hold approx. 2.5 petabytes

Depends on the type of media being stored. The drive uses different compression algorithms for different types of data. We don't store video as video. We remember situations and relationships of objects, then draw those object's onto the situation during recall. This is a big deal in areas like eye witness testimony, or pilots flying a plane. Sometimes you remember that an object (ie an instrument) was at a particular location, recognize it, and remember it according to the previous memory rather than save a second copy. That certainly saves space on the drive, but risks loss of current details. An abnormal instrument reading may be lost when the pilot's brain substitutes an image from a previous memory.

The notorious Clyde, of Bonny and Clyde, broke out of jail with a bar of soap. He held it like a gun and told people it was a gun. Everyone remembered seeing him holding a gun. Their brains stored a generic gun image and afterwards had a very clear memory of the gun, which was only ever a bar of soap pained black with boot polish.

Actually, it was Woody Allen in the movie "Take the money and run" which carved a gun out of a bar of soap. The escape attempt was almost successful until they entered the courtyard where it was raining heavily.

Apparently this scene was based on a real escape attempt by one Charles Makley which did indeed carve a gun out of soap and paint it black with shoe polish. He was however gunned down by prison guards, so the attempt was not successful.

If that is true, then I got words for the police officer who gave the lecture. I really hate when people teach me things that turn out to be myths. I've never seen the movie. I doubt I would have transposed the story.

don't worry, someone above pretty much considers Rainman a documentary

Please read about Kim Peek - that guy read two pages simultanenously while retaining 98% of the content. He had the content of around 12.000 books in his memory and could recite every page after reading it once.

He was the inspiration for the movie. But he wasn't very happy and felt trapped in his brain because no one was able to have meaningful conversations with him. Poor guy.

Reason for his insane memory is that the connection between the left and right hemisphere of his brain is missing. This means that all the information get saved because the filters aren't working properly.


Knowing how to manage one’s own learning has become increasingly important in recent years, as both the need and the opportunities for individuals to learn on their own outside of formal classroom settings have grown. During that same period, however, research on learning, memory, and metacognitive processes has provided evidence that people often have a faulty mental model of how they learn and remember, making them prone to both misassessing and mismanaging their own learning. After a discussion of what learners need to understand in order to become effective stewards of their own learning, we first review research on what people believe about how they learn and then review research on how people’s ongoing assessments of their own learning are influenced by current performance and the subjective sense of fluency. We conclude with a discussion of societal assumptions and attitudes that can be counterproductive in terms of individuals becoming maximally effective learners.

If you are interested in the topic, you should check out the Learning How to Learn course: https://www.coursera.org/learn/learning-how-to-learn

Great article. I strongly refrrence it in Study Swami.

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