Summarized Reading of Make It Stick: Chapter 5 – Avoid Illusions of Knowing

Alright I’ve reached the last chapter in the book but I’ve realized that I only wrote till Chapter 4. Note that I’m doing it for anyone but myself to finally finish off the book and finally I have. I’m planning to do a main points summary from the takeaway parts of all the chapters. So onto the chapter…

Basically this chapter discusses how human beings almost always misjudges and have a false sense of confidence about something. The authors presented a few stories of victims who were shocked and witnesses who couldn’t give a valid recollection of crimes that had allegedly witnessed (which made me think of what happened in Ferguson).

The authors also talked about Daniel Kahnenan’s book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, and how human beings have two analytic systems. Basically System 1 is from our experience and memories, and System 2 is what we can control. Using a story about a pilot who got his plane not in the right position in the air, I basically got the point of using external tools and instruments to check whether our judgement of something is correct. This made me think about my diet and how Tim Ferris advocated the use of multiple tools, the basic one being tracking of Total Inches, so that we have a clear idea of any progress that is taking place.

Then the authors go on to talk about memory illusion which is simply the fact where you try and remember something but your memory actually fails on you and it tries to give you something which may be an illusion. The rest of chapter discusses different types of memory illusions and cognitive biases that human beings fall victim to.

The authors later on suggest on creating mental models. It’s basically a routine set of steps that a learner takes on to ensure correct feedback and reaction to different or similar events.

Additionally, the authors suggest 3 main techniques that involves testing and retrieval practices:
1) Frequent low-stakes quizzes (reveals what students know and whether they need extra help in specific areas)

2) Cumulative quizzing is definitely good for consolidating learning, to see if previous learnt topics have been mastered as well as to see if the layered concepts have successfully been weaved well with each other.

3) Individually, a learner can use self test mastery, answering flashcards (where the answer in on the back), explaining key concepts in own words (and letting someone check it) as well as peer instruction.

Peer instruction involves reading material prior to the lesson. The lesson itself will have tests that includes conceptual questions where students will come together to discuss to eventually reach a consensus. This engages students in underlying concepts of the lecture material, reveals’ students’  problems in reaching understanding and provide opportunities for them to explain their own understanding, receive feedback and assess their learning as compared to other students. Pairing students with different answers allows them to discuss and try to convince the other on whose answer is more correct.

The paragraph that I really appreciate and I feel is truly applicable especially to the community in Singapore is the following:

“Pay attention to the cues you’re using to judge what you have learned. Whether something feels familiar or fluent is not always a reliable indicator of learning. Neither is your level of ease in retrieving a fact or a phrase on a quiz shortly after encountering it in a lecture of text. (Ease of retrieval after a delay, however, is a good indicator of learning.) Far better is to create a mental model of the material that integrates the various ideas across a text, connects them to what you already know, and enables you to draw inferences. How ably you can explain a text is an excellent cue for judging comprehension, because you must recall the salient points from memory, put them into your own words, and explain why they are significant – how they relate to the larger subject.”

A lot of times when parents tell their children or even teacher to tell their students to repeat similar questions and tests in assessment books of practice papers, it is only testing them without actually taking the time to assess and consecutively provide corrective feedback. Additionally, when teachers give practice papers to students, it is actually to simulate an examination situation. However, simulation itself is not enough. The important idea (growth mindset) is to have feedback to reconfigure your perspective of what the student knows and doesn’t know, and consecutively whether the student has this growth mindset as well and accept the learning that has taken place.

One response to “Summarized Reading of Make It Stick: Chapter 5 – Avoid Illusions of Knowing

  1. Pingback: Summarized reading of Make It Stick: Chapter 6 – Get Beyond Learning Styles | The Million In My Head·

Comments are closed.