Posted in learning, Psychology

Effortful Learning: Synthesis​

Learning is an effortful process, as demonstrated in the last three blogs. This synthesis will reinforce the notion of effortful learning, with the goal of inspiring other individuals to reflect on their learning and question the current system of education.

As mentioned in the post about desirable difficulties, the brain and memory are less of a filing cabinet, but more of a muscle. When novel information has entered the mind, the information must be rehearsed for it to be encoded within long-term memory, much like working out the muscle to keep fit; if the memory is not repeated or muscle is not worked out, both slowly diminish.

In the case of desirable difficulties, the information obtained must be continuously reviewed over a more considerable amount of time (testing and spacing effects) to maintain the information both time and energy must be applied.

Unfortunately, teachers do a lot of the work of learning for us. By organizing the material onto slides (organizational effect) that allows for easier comprehension of the material in a way that diminished attention (disfluency effect), so that little effort is needed by the student to understand the material. Not only do teachers do the work for us, but the traditional structure of education and standardized testing assist students with fast-tracking of information so that they can obtain a high grade through a multiple choice exam. With the goal of the education system to achieve A high GPA and test results; which is pursued by both students and teachers. It appears that teachers and post-secondary institutes want students to succeed only in the form of grades as that is how they measure success. Providing students with effort-less learning contradicts how learning is acquired: through effort, time, persistence, and difficulty, not through the ability to fill in a bubble on a scantron sheet.

The current study techniques as illustrated in my prior post consist of cramming, lecture slides, highlighters, flashcards, and the list of ineffective study techniques goes on and on. But for learning to be meaningful and active, students cannot merely rely on surface level strategies such as rereading the textbook or highlighting their notes. Unfortunately, these methods achieve decent if not exceptional results within grading, but the function of the current education is to make learning easy, but learning should not be easy, as emphasized in previous posts.

In conjunction with the effort-less student strategies, learning is individualized. By this I mean, that unless students form a study group, studying and learning is done as an individualized activity.  For example, in our Camus library, there are more isolated cubicles than study rooms or work tables, which promotes secluded studying. In individualistic societies, collective learning and test taking in the classroom are frowned upon; many call it cheating.

By not giving students the opportunity to see different perspectives, discuss, reflect on and challenge the information with each other, students become used to learning in one manner which is lecture halls and isolated. Resulting in a lack of effort because students are habituated to the same environment, and less attention is needed to succeed, so studying becomes subjective. This is because of this set structure of individualized learning and lecture halls, other forms of learning or feedback never occur (differentiated instruction delayed feedback). To illustrate this lack of effort and individualization for students, a news article recently came out that states that millennials would give up their right to vote for the next two elections to have their student loan debt forgiven. To some, this may be an acceptable choice, but to a majority of people, this is shocking. This example shows how millennials and a portion of society think individualistically rather than thinking of the collective. Now whether this choice is due to an overabundance of debt, the lack of effort it takes to vote, or that their vote doesn’t matter, it still reflects the focus of individualized effort rather than collective effort.

At this state, it appears that studying and learning are done without any scientific evidence, even go against psychology and how we actually learn; education and learning have become subjective, in the way that their methods are based upon tradition and opinion. But as we have seen in the SAFMEDS post, learning should not be subjective, and that there is a significant amount of psychology within learning, to make learning more effective in the long run. With this being said, I end this synthesis with one question: Do C’s really get degrees? I believe so.

The featured image, although disturbing, is an accurate portrayal of the learning, knowledge, and effort within the education system.

References

Blumberg, J. (2017). 50% of millennials would give up this fundamental American right to have their student loans forgivenCNBC. Retrieved 24 November 2017, from https://www.cnbc.com/2017/09/29/millennials-would-give-up-this-right-to-wipe-out-their-student-loans.html

Dangel, H. (2017). Effortful Retrieval | Center for Excellence in Teaching and LearningSites.gsu.edu. Retrieved 24 November 2017, from http://sites.gsu.edu/scholarlyteaching/effortful-retrieval/

Davis, M. (2017). How Collaborative Learning Leads to Student SuccessEdutopia. Retrieved 24 November 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/stw-collaborative-learning-college-prep

Hopper, E. (2017). Individualist or Collectivist? How Culture Influences BehaviorHealthyPsych.com. Retrieved 24 November 2017, from https://healthypsych.com/individualist-or-collectivist-how-culture-influences-behavior/

Introduction to cooperative learning. (2017). En.wikipedia.org. Retrieved 24 November 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Introduction_to_cooperative_learning

Introduction to cooperative learning. (2017). En.wikipedia.org. Retrieved 24 November 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Introduction_to_cooperative_learning

Learning Myths vs. Learning Facts – The Effortful Educator. (2017). The Effortful Educator. Retrieved 24 November 2017, from https://theeffortfuleducator.com/2017/07/17/learning-myths-vs-learning-facts/

McFeeters, F. (2017). The Effects of Individualism Vs. Collectivism on Learner’s Recall, Transfer, and Attitudes Toward Collaboration and Individualized Learning (PH’D). Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

McGarry, K. (2017). effortful learning: desirable difficulty. Cognitive Mindset. Retrieved from https://kassiemcgarry.wordpress.com/2017/10/27/effortful-learning-desirable-difficulty/

McGarry, K. (2017). Effortful Learning: ineffective Pedagogy and Academia. Cognitive Mindset. Retrieved from https://kassiemcgarry.wordpress.com/2017/11/10/ineffective-pedagogy-and-academia/

McGarry, K. (2017). Effortful Learning: SAFMEDS. Cognitive Mindset. Retrieved from https://kassiemcgarry.wordpress.com/2017/11/03/effortful-learning-application-of-safmeds-2/

No authorship indicated. (1987). Learning Together and Alone: Cooperative, Competitive, and Individualistic Learning (2nd ed.). Psyccritiques32(6). http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/027279

 

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