Should answer three questions: WHY, WHAT, HOW
There are two types of motivations: instrumental (learning it to find a new job) and intrinsic (learning it just because). Knowing that will also help you to determine HOW. Expert interviews would help if it’s more like an instrumental motivation.
Anything needs to be understood, not just memorized.
Example: Derivatives for Calculus
Anything needs to be memorized. You don’t need to understand them deeply as long as you recall them in correct situations.
Example: Trigonometric identities in Calculus
Anything needs to be practiced. They may not require deep understanding.
Example: Riding a bicycle
Recognize where you are, try to start small
We want to speak a language but try to learn mostly by playing on fun apps, rather than conversing with actual people.
We want to work on collaborative, professional programs but mostly code scripts in isolation.
We want to become great speakers, so we buy a book on communication, rather than practice presenting.
In all these cases the problem is the same: directly learning the thing we want feels too uncomfortable, boring, or frustrating, so we settle for some book, lecture, or app, hoping it will eventually make us better at the real thing.
Moves to Canada from India, gets an architecture degree from a design school where they do more therotical education. Tries to get a job but gets rejected repeatedly. Decides to build his portfolio by focus on learning what is actually needed in the industry. Gets a job in a print center who serves mostly to the architecture offices. Studies the blueprints, learns a software by designing his own building.
During the MIT challange, the biggest problem was not to have no educational material, it’s not having any problem sets to study for the final.
The Transfer Problem (mostly on traditional education, it’s hard to use something you learn in classroom context in the real life context) is solved by directness in two ways
Even if you learn something specific, you may still need to understand the concepts that it’s tied to in a broader way. If you want to master it, you need to keep going :)
It’s much more pleasant to spend time focusing on things you’re already good at. Teasing out the worst thing about your performance and practicing that in isolation takes guts. The difficulty and usefulness of drills repeat a pattern that will recur throughout the ultralearning principles: that something mentally strenuous provides a greater benefit to learning than something easy.
Example of Benjamin Franklin: chooses a topic (writing), divides it to sub-topics (structure, vocabulary, grammar) tries to achieve a level of confidance in one without worrying too much about the others (writing articles which has good layout but bad grammar) then starts drilling on next topic. Sub-takeaway: he tries to use Socratic method, avoiding “abrupt contradiction and positive argumentation,” instead focusing on being the “humble inquirer and doubter.”
In chemical reactions, there are rate-determining steps which affects the time required to complete the reaction significantly. In learning, your weakest point is the rate-determining step. If you drill on your weaker points, it’ll improve your overall competence and will help mastering every aspects of that skill.
Trying to retrieve an answer that doesn’t yet exist in your mind is like laying down a road leading to a building that hasn’t been constructed yet. The destination doesn’t exist, but the path to get to where it will be, once constructed, is developed regardless.
Three groups of students have been told to study by
When you review something passively, you don’t get any feedback about what you know and don’t know. Since tests usually come with feedback, that might explain why students who practiced self-testing beat the concept mappers or passive reviewers.