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Desirable Difficulties

Learning is enhanced when learners have to organize the information themselves or exert additional effort during acquisition or retrieval than in conditions in which the information to be learned or retrieved does not require effort. One possible explanation for this effect is that learners create multiple retrieval paths which make the information more accessible at retrieval. These practices slow initial learning, but promote long-term recall. 
  • Implications
    • Teachers should present the to-be-remembered information in formats that require effortful processing. For example, information presented in class should not follow in the same order as information in a related chapter so learners will be to integrate the two sources of information. Learners will remember information better when it requires effortful processing than information that is easy to learn. 
  • References
    • Bereiter, C., & Scardamalia, M. (1985). Cognitive coping strategies and the problem of "inert knowledge". In S. F. Chipman, J. W. Segal, & R. Glaser (Eds.), Thinking and learning skills: Vol. 2. Current research and open questions (pp. 65-80). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
    • Bjork, R. A.  (1988). Retrieval practice and maintenance of knowledge. In M. M. Gruneberg, P. E. Morris, & R. N. Sykes (Eds.). Practical aspects of memory: Current research and issues. (Vol 1, pp. 396-401). NY: Wiley.
    • Bjork, R. A. (1999). Assessing our own competence: Heuristics and illusions. In D. Gopher & A. Koriat (Eds.). Attention and performance XVII: Cognitive regulation of performance: interaction of theory and application (pp. 435-459). Cambridge, MA: MIT press.