Another dot in the blogosphere?

Cognitive science on why lectures don’t work

Posted on: March 5, 2017


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I cannot remember the last time I read a textbook about how we think we think. So this video by Veritasium was a good reminder of how working memory and long-term memory operate.

I like how YouTuber, Derek Muller, role-played Drew (working memory) and Gunn (long-term memory). But the video went further than just explaining these two concepts. It highlighted how we become lazy thinkers and hinted at how we might start thinking more actively, i.e., by forcibly putting things into working memory.

The best bit of the video was how strategically making things more difficult was optimal for learning. I have highlighted this in the video segment above.

Muller described how lectures relied on coasting and lazy thinking (if any at all) while more active learning designs like workshops made students process questions.

Active learning is like exercise: Most people do not really like to work, but the same folks will appreciate how the effort pays off.

That is one more reason to blog every day. It helps me stay fit and sharp by dredging up what I think I know, laying it bare, and keeping only what is current or relevant.

Bonus: I have already thought of ways I can use this video in two different workshops I conduct. The first is as a primer for setting the expectation that questions drive learning, not answers. The other is for instructors who have not been weaned off lecturing. There will be so much dissonance!

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