Over the last couple of decades, learning and memory researchers have become increasingly interested in bringing scientific findings out of the lab and into the classroom, where they can be implemented into teaching methods to produce more efficient and effective learning. In a nation mired in an educational crisis, there’s never been a better time or place to bridge the gap between modern scientific knowledge and outdated teaching techniques.
One of the greatest insights in the last 20 years that has serious potential to improve classroom teaching has been Robert Bjork’s concept of desirable difficulties (Bjork, 1994; McDaniel & Butler, in press), which suggests that introducing certain difficulties into the learning process can greatly improve long-term retention of the learned material. In psychology studies thus far, these difficulties have generally been modifications to commonly used methods that add some sort of additional hurdle during the learning or studying process. Some notable examples: Continue reading