Desireable difficulties

Learning is not always meant to be fun and/or make you feel smart

After last month’s theme of flow we decided to look into what we thought might be the opposite of flow – desirable difficulty.

Read as much or as little as you want to, and please do recommend other articles. 

  • 5 minute video in which Robert Bjork explains the concept of desirable difficulty in education https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtmMMR7SJKw (Free).
  • Podcast – How to use cognitive psychology to enhance learning. Dr Robert Bjork talks about spacing, interleaving, retrieval and more. 2015. http://teachinginhighered.com/podcast/cognitive-psychology/ (Free).
  • Yue, Carole L., Alan D. Castel, and Robert A. Bjork. 2013. “When Disfluency Is—and Is Not—a Desirable Difficulty: The Influence of Typeface Clarity on Metacognitive Judgments and Memory.” Memory & Cognition 41 (2): 229–41. doi:10.3758/s13421-012-0255-8.
  • Yue, Carole L., Elizabeth Ligon Bjork, and Robert A. Bjork. 2013. “Reducing Verbal Redundancy in Multimedia Learning: An Undesired Desirable Difficulty?” Journal of Educational Psychology 105 (2): 266–77. doi:10.1037/a0031971.

Access notes: not everyone may be able to access the paywalled articles. One approach is to ensure a proportion of the reading is freely available, favouring open access materials. We could take a pragmatic Wikipedia approach i.e. let those who have access to the pay-walled stuff digest it and share that thinking during the discussions. We look forward to hearing your views on this. Please contact us if you have difficulties, or if you have open texts to recommend.

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