April 24, 2021
Continuing with my learning journey from last time
Exploration of learning
I’ve decided that school can actually be interesting if I make it so. The most interesting part so far for me is not the content itself, but rather trying to optimize for the best results. My goal now is to get an A with the lowest amount of time input. I use evidence based learning techniques and try to incorporate them as much as possible. The most important techniques are interleaving, spaced repetition, and active recall.
Interleaving involves mixing up the different subjects during review so we cannot rely on short term memory. In the book make it stick, they referenced an example in which baseball players were practicing for different pitches. One group would only practice hitting 1 type of pitch. For example, 15 fast balls, then 15 straight balls. The other group would have the pitches thrown at random. The results during practice favored the group hitting one type of pitch because they already knew what was coming and were able to leverage their short term memory. However, when the actual game came, the group that practiced hitting mixed pitches performed far better. This is the principle of interleaving. Mixing difference subjects or even categories within a subject forces us to use long term memory for retrieval, thus enhancing memory.
Spaced repetition is the idea that spacing out practice is better than doing it in one chunk. For example, if you had an hour to study, you would want to split it up into 10 minutes a day rather than going through the whole material in an hour. This concept lead me to ask the question of what spacing is optimal? Do I want to practice 1 second a day? 2 minutes? How about 10 minutes every week? This is a classic optimization problem centered around learning. Luckily for me, a Polish researcher Piotr Wozniak already figured all of this out through extensive self experimentation. He is actually the inventor of space repetition and his algorithms are featured in many of today’s spaced repetition algorhythm softwares. (to be continued)