Make It Stick- The Science of Successful Learning

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Book title: Make It Stick- The Science of Successful Learning 1st Edition

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  • The following basically paraphrasing the review from the above book summary:

Chapter 1.

“Learning is Misunderstood”: A common misunderstanding about learning: re-reading is an effective study strategy – but it’s not. Re-reading gives students confidence that they know something when they actually don’t.

Chapter 2.

“To Learn, Retrieve.”; Testing is one effective retrieval strategy to improve learning.

Chapter 3.

“Mix Up Your Practice,” the authors present research on two robust teaching strategies: spacing and interleaving. Research demonstrates that simply spacing out or rearranging and mixing up concepts can yield a large boost in learning.

Chapter 4.

“Embrace Difficulties” during learning. The authors point out that contrary to popular belief, making errors during retrieval is a good thing for learning.

Chapter 5.

“Avoid Illusions of Knowing.” Students consistently predict higher test performance following ineffective strategies (e.g., re-reading) compared to more effective strategies (e.g., retrieval practice). Numerous studies reveal that students drop flashcards too fast due to poor metacognition and awareness of their own knowledge.

Chapter 6.

“Get Beyond Learning Styles.” The authors point out that no empirical evidence that teaching students consistent with their “learning style” (e.g. auditory, visual or through experience) will improve learning. In contrast, methods supported by scientific evidence – including retrieval – are robust and reliable methods that improve student learning in the classroom.

Chapter 7.

How to “Increase Your Abilities.” One method the authors highlight is a growth mindset, or the belief that learning and intelligence are malleable rather than fixed. Growth mindset encourages students to focus on learning and growing with increasing challenges, rather than performance at one point in time.

Chapter 8.

“Make it Stick,” the final chapter is a list of tips provide tips:

  • Possible retrieval practices: Clickers or Colored Index Cards
    • Clickers or Paper-and-pencil and computer or web-based quizzes: for gaining instant feedback for both the student and the teacher, but the key to retrieval practice is to engage students in recalling information from memory.
  • Possible retrieval practices: Bell Work or Exit Tickets: Give small slips of paper at the very beginning of class as students are entering the classroom (“bell work”) or before students leave the classroom (“exit tickets”) that include questions about content learned in class.

  • the retrieval benefit from short answer vs. multiple-choice quizzes appears to be similar.
  • Use retrieval practice as a learning strategy, not an assessment tool.
  • Make retrieval practice low-stakes or no-stakes (i.e., not for a grade), to reduce anxiety and encourage trial-and-error.
  • Provide retrieval practice frequently, as often as possible. Practice makes perfect!
  • Provide retrieval practice after a lesson is complete, perhaps even a few days or weeks later.

  • Space it out. Use a variety of strategies to implement frequent retrieval practice: clickers, index cards, bell work, quick writing prompts, etc. grade levels.
  • Encourage metacognition by giving students feedback.
  • Reassure students that challenging learning (via retrieval practice) is a good thing!
  • Examine your existing teaching strategies – do they focus on getting information “in” or “out” of students’ minds? Are students being challenged, or is learning easy and “fluent?”
  • Use a variety of question types: fact-based, conceptual, and higher order/transfer.

  • Interleaved practice makes sense and some level of blocked practice is necessary. Students must learn how to both choose and use a strategy because that is what they must do on cumulative exams and other high-stakes tests. Simply put, interleaved practice gives students a chance to learn what they need to know.