Ten Years Ago on Grasping Reality: May 24, 2008

From Miles Kimball's Intermediate Macroeconomics

School of Athens

Miles Kimball: Link to Basic Resources for Intermediate Macro:

Anyone who wants to be a B student, an A student or learn even more than that should read the book Make It Stick. I can summarize the main point this way. If you want to get knowledge into long-term memory, reading and rereading won't do the trick. Your brain only puts something into long-term memory if you prove to your brain that it is worth remembering that thing by trying to remember it. So the activity of trying to remember things is the key to learning something not just for the exam tomorrow but learning it for good.

Besides telling my students what I just said in the last paragraph, the way I use this principle in my class is by treating exams primarily as learning opportunities and only secondarily as evaluation devices. Exams cause students to try to remember things. Before each of the three exams, I ask students to do over the weekend the exam from the previous year as a practice exam—under time pressure. Then I go over that practice exam carefully in the class right before the exam. After the exam, I consider the class where I go over the answers one of the most important class periods for learning.

When I write each exam, I am thinking about what I most want students to remember down the road, since I know they will remember what ended up on the exams much more than any other specific things from the class. The answers to the exam questions represent the bulk of the key ideas and some of the key skills I want the students to take away from the class...

Peter C. Brown et al. (2014): Make It Stick: "Drawing on cognitive psychology and other fields, Make It Stick offers techniques for becoming more productive learners, and cautions against study habits and practice routines that turn out to be counterproductive. The book speaks to students, teachers, trainers, athletes, and all those interested in lifelong learning and self-improvement..."

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