Medical Mnemonist Podcast

Easier Isn’t Better- Science of Successful Learning

Chase DiMarco talks about the science of successful learning and debunks the most common myths we have around it. He shares better learning strategies and insights from “Make It Stick”.

  • [01:48] The Illusion of Knowing
  • [03:09] Interleaving Practice
  • [04:53] Easier isn’t Better
  • [08:13] The Dunning-Kruger Effect
  • [11:58] Apply Different Learning Styles
  • [14:03] Have a Growth Mindset

The Illusion of Knowing

A common misconception is that repeated exposure to a material promotes learning. Studies have shown that highlighting chapters don’t do much to improve knowledge. It does however give you an illusion of mastery because of the familiarity with the material you gain. The application of knowledge has to do with recall. Reviewing improves recognition but not recall¾making it an ineffective way to study.

Interleaving Practice

Focusing on a single subject for extended periods of time seems like the most logical thing to do. Many people engage in blocked practice before they move on to the next topic. Unbeknownst to them, you reap more value from interleaving practice. When you switch topics while you study, you start to notice commonalities across the materials. The connections you form between various subjects enrich your learning.

Easier Isn’t Better

We expect learning to be easy but that is simply not the case. Rereading past notes may be efficient because you cover more material in less time. However, that doesn’t make it an effective study strategy. It is much more beneficial to add in some difficulty during practice. Putting in more mental effort allows you to have a deeper understanding of a subject. Test yourself in different ways to know where your weak points are. Practice shouldn’t be overwhelmingly difficult, but it should be challenging enough to help you grow.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect

The Dunning-Kruger Effect is a cognitive bias that we have about our abilities. We tend to overestimate our own skills. This is where assessments and mentorship come in handy. Tests can give you a more accurate evaluation of your knowledge and skills. Paper exams aren’t always appropriate, pick the right measuring tool for you according to your goals.

Apply Different Learning Styles

Whether you’re a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner, sticking to just one learning style is not the best approach. People have different learning preferences but trying out different study methods can provide the most gains. By applying diverse types of learning, you have a more well-rounded grasp on the topic.

Have a Growth Mindset

No one is better suited to learning more than another person. Everyone has the same capacity to acquire knowledge and skills. Learning requires you to have a growth mindset. You need to believe that you can improve if you put in the work. Remember that small, incremental changes over time are signs of progress. To continue to grow, you must constantly push yourself outside of your comfort zone.

Check out Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning. For the highlights of the book, visit Retrieval Practice and the APA Blog. For more tips, grab a copy of Read This Before Medical School. Don’t forget to leave a rating!

Share your experiences, tips, and suggestions to [email protected]. Or you can directly reach out to Chase on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram. Join the Medical Mnemonist Master Mind Facebook group and find our Blog postsPodcasts, and other Resources at FreeMedEd.org!

Chase DiMarco

Chase DiMarco is an MS, MBA-HA and MD/Ph.D-candidate. He is the founder of FreeMedEd, a free medical education resource, the host of the Medical Mnemonist 1-Minute Preceptor podcasts by MedSchoolCoach, creator of several medical education platforms, and CEO of FindARotation clinical rotations service.

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