Deliberately difficultWhy it might be better to makelearning slowerDavid DidauWellington Education Festival22nd June 2013
The most important role ofteaching is to promotelearning and to raise pupils‟achievement.Ofsted Inspection Handbook, 2013
Outstanding teaching andlearning will result in “almostall pupils … making rapid andsustained progress.”Ofsted Inspection ...
2 questionsQ: If Ofsted judge T&L by observing lessons,what does „progress in lessons‟ look like?A: PerformanceQ: Can prog...
TeachingLearningLearningThe input/output myth
• But “as learning occurs, so doesforgetting……learning takes time and is notencapsulated in the visible here-and-now of cl...
Learning & forgetting
What can be done?1. Separate performance from learning2. Introduce „desirable difficulties‟Prf. Robert Bjork, UCLA
1.Separating learning fromperformancePerformance ismeasurablebutlearning mustbe inferred from performance:it cannot be obs...
2. Why is difficulty desirable?• Rapid improvement (performance):predictability, cues, massed practice• Sustained improvem...
The (New) Theory of DisuseRetrieval strengthStoragestrengthOld friend‟saddressNew friend‟saddressChildhoodaddressWhat youl...
Rapid progress preventssustained progress• The higher the retrieval strength, thesmaller the gains from additional study o...
“The illusion of knowing”Everyone likes rapid progressBut…The route to sustained progress iscounter intuitive
Desirable difficulties• spacing• interleaving• variability• generation• testing• reducing feedback
Hermann Ebbinghaus, 1885
What the evidence saysSpaced vs massed practice d = 0.71Acquisition increased by d = 0.45Retention increased by d = 0.51Jo...
InterleavingReadingnon-fictionPersuasivewritingAudience&purposeSpelling,punctuation&grammarParagraphing&structureAnalysing...
GenerationGenerating information is morememorable than just reading itApplePearOr_____Ra______
Items we‟ve not practisedretrieving are more likely to beforgotten in the short termBut, forgetting increases chancesof re...
Testing• Which study pattern will result in thebest test results?1. STUDY STUDY STUDY STUDY – TEST2. STUDY STUDY STUDY TES...
Tests don’t have to be dull
Variability
Reducing feedback• Providing feedback of success iscounter productive• Students become dependent• Slows down pace of learn...
A teacher‟s job is not to make workeasy. It is to make it difficult. if youare not challenged, you do notmake mistakes. If...
Key messages• Performance is not evidence oflearning• Share the theory of „deliberatedifficulties‟ with your students• Don...
Sapere aude!David Didau@LearningSpylearningspy.co.ukddidau@gmail.com
Ed fest desirable difficulties
Ed fest desirable difficulties
Ed fest desirable difficulties
Ed fest desirable difficulties
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Slides used at Wellington Education Festival 2013 on Robert Bjork's theories of 'desirable difficulties'

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  • Performance can be propped up by predictability and current cues that are present during the lesson but won’t be present when the information is needed later. This can make it seem that a student is making rapid progress but there may not actually be any learning happening.
  • Learning occurs but performance in the short term doesn’t improve, or…Performance improves, but little learning seems to happen in the long term.
  • represent, change context etc.
  • Threshold concepts?
  • Interference vs inhibiition??Items we’ve not practised retrieving are more likely to be forgotten in the short term but are more likely to be ‘learned’ in the long term
  • We respond to familiar cuesIf you take a test in the room in which you’ve learned you’ll do better – but much worse in an unfamiliar settingBut, if you learn in lots of different configurations, you’ll do better in tests
  • Ed fest desirable difficulties

    1. Deliberately difficultWhy it might be better to makelearning slowerDavid DidauWellington Education Festival22nd June 2013
    2. The most important role ofteaching is to promotelearning and to raise pupils‟achievement.Ofsted Inspection Handbook, 2013
    3. Outstanding teaching andlearning will result in “almostall pupils … making rapid andsustained progress.”Ofsted Inspection Handbook, 2013
    4. 2 questionsQ: If Ofsted judge T&L by observing lessons,what does „progress in lessons‟ look like?A: PerformanceQ: Can progress be both rapid andsustained?A: No
    5. TeachingLearningLearningThe input/output myth
    6. • But “as learning occurs, so doesforgetting……learning takes time and is notencapsulated in the visible here-and-now of classroom activities.”Graham Nuthall, The Hidden Lives of LearnersThe input/output myth
    7. Learning & forgetting
    8. What can be done?1. Separate performance from learning2. Introduce „desirable difficulties‟Prf. Robert Bjork, UCLA
    9. 1.Separating learning fromperformancePerformance ismeasurablebutlearning mustbe inferred from performance:it cannot be observed directly.Robert Bjork
    10. 2. Why is difficulty desirable?• Rapid improvement (performance):predictability, cues, massed practice• Sustained improvement (learning):variability, spacing, interleavingThese slow down performance butlead to long term retention & transferof knowledge
    11. The (New) Theory of DisuseRetrieval strengthStoragestrengthOld friend‟saddressNew friend‟saddressChildhoodaddressWhat youlearn in thissession
    12. Rapid progress preventssustained progress• The higher the retrieval strength, thesmaller the gains from additional study orpractice• Forgetting creates the likelihood ofincreased learning• If learning is difficult, retrieval strength willdecrease in the short term but willincrease in the long term
    13. “The illusion of knowing”Everyone likes rapid progressBut…The route to sustained progress iscounter intuitive
    14. Desirable difficulties• spacing• interleaving• variability• generation• testing• reducing feedback
    15. Hermann Ebbinghaus, 1885
    16. What the evidence saysSpaced vs massed practice d = 0.71Acquisition increased by d = 0.45Retention increased by d = 0.51John Hattie, Visible Learning
    17. InterleavingReadingnon-fictionPersuasivewritingAudience&purposeSpelling,punctuation&grammarParagraphing&structureAnalysingContextualisingAudience&purposeSpelling,punctuation&grammarParagraphing&structureAnalysingUsingevidenceContextualisingAudience&purposeSpelling,punctuation&grammarParagraphing&structureAnalysingContextualisingUsingevidenceUsingevidenceAnalysingpoetryCreativewriting
    18. GenerationGenerating information is morememorable than just reading itApplePearOr_____Ra______
    19. Items we‟ve not practisedretrieving are more likely to beforgotten in the short termBut, forgetting increases chancesof retaining information that isrepresentedRetrieval induced forgetting
    20. Testing• Which study pattern will result in thebest test results?1. STUDY STUDY STUDY STUDY – TEST2. STUDY STUDY STUDY TEST – TEST3. STUDY STUDY TEST TEST – TEST4. STUDY TEST TEST TEST - TEST
    21. Tests don’t have to be dull
    22. Variability
    23. Reducing feedback• Providing feedback of success iscounter productive• Students become dependent• Slows down pace of learning• Prevents risk taking & challenge
    24. A teacher‟s job is not to make workeasy. It is to make it difficult. if youare not challenged, you do notmake mistakes. If you do notmake mistakes, feedback isuseless.John Hattie, Visible Learning
    25. Key messages• Performance is not evidence oflearning• Share the theory of „deliberatedifficulties‟ with your students• Don‟t trust your gut!
    26. Sapere aude!David Didau@LearningSpylearningspy.co.ukddidau@gmail.com
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