Tag Archives: learning

‘Bit Culture’ and the Benefits of Distraction

The inform­a­tion con­sump­tion habits of many in the young­er generations–one fea­ture of the ‘Inter­net inform­a­tion culture’–has many mer­its, des­pite its many detract­ors. So says Ban Cas­nocha in an art­icle for The Amer­ic­an that acts as both a review of Tyler Cowen’s Cre­ate Your Own Eco­nomy and a fairly pos­it­ive and com­pre­hens­ive over­view of the “bit cul­ture” and its affects on atten­tion and learn­ing.

Cas­nocha begins with a look at his own media con­sump­tion habits (that closely mir­rors mine and, no doubt, many of yours, too) and a couple of the­or­ies for explain­ing this style:

The first is eco­nom­ic: when cul­ture is free and a click away, as it is on blogs and Twit­ter and the broad­er Inter­net, we sample broadly and con­sume it in smal­ler chunks: “When access is easy, we tend to favor the short, the sweet, and the bitty. When access is dif­fi­cult, we tend to look for large-scale pro­duc­tions, extra­vag­an­zas, and mas­ter­pieces,” […]

The second reas­on is the intel­lec­tu­al and emo­tion­al stim­u­la­tion we exper­i­ence by assem­bling a cus­tom stream of bits. Cowen refers to this pro­cess as the “daily self-assembly of syn­thet­ic exper­i­ences.” My inputs appear a chaot­ic jumble of scattered inform­a­tion but to me they touch all my interest points. When I con­sume them as a blend, I see all-import­ant con­nec­tions between the dif­fer­ent intel­lec­tu­al nar­rat­ives I fol­low […]

When skep­tics make sweep­ing neg­at­ive claims about how the Web affects cog­ni­tion, they are for­get­ting the people whose nat­ur­al tend­en­cies and strengths blos­som in an inform­a­tion-rich envir­on­ment. Cowen’s over­rid­ing point, delivered in a “can­’t we all just get along” spir­it, is that every­one pro­cesses the stim­uli of the world dif­fer­ently. Every­one deploys atten­tion in their own way. We should embrace the new tools—even if we do not per­son­ally bene­fit— that allow the infovores among us to per­form tasks effect­ively and acquire know­ledge rap­idly.

Evidence-Based Study Tips

A recent issue of The Psy­cho­lo­gist included a “rough guide to study­ing psy­cho­logy” by the edit­or of the excel­lent Research Digest blog, Chris­ti­an Jar­rett. In his guide, Jar­rett provided nine evid­ence-based study tips:

  • Adopt a growth mind­set: [Stu­dents] who see intel­li­gence as mal­le­able, react to adversity by work­ing harder and try­ing out new strategies. […] Research also sug­gests lec­tur­ers and teach­ers should […] avoid com­ments on innate abil­ity and emphas­ise instead what stu­dents did well to achieve their suc­cess.
  • Sleep well.
  • For­give your­self for pro­cras­tin­at­ing.
  • Test your­self: Time spent answer­ing quiz ques­tions (includ­ing feed­back of cor­rect answers) is more bene­fi­cial than the same time spent merely re-study­ing that same mater­i­al. […] Test­ing ‘cre­ates power­ful memor­ies that are not eas­ily for­got­ten’ and it allows you to dia­gnose your learn­ing. […] Self-test­ing when inform­a­tion is still fresh in your memory, imme­di­ately after study­ing, does­n’t work. It does not cre­ate last­ing memor­ies, and it cre­ates over­con­fid­ence.
  • Pace your stud­ies: The secret to remem­ber­ing mater­i­al long-term is to review it peri­od­ic­ally, rather than try­ing to cram. […] The optim­al time to leave mater­i­al before review­ing it is 10 to 30 per cent of the peri­od you want to remem­ber it for.
  • Vivid examples may not always work best: Stu­dents taught about math­em­at­ic­al rela­tions link­ing three items in a group were only able to trans­fer the rules to a nov­el, real-life situ­ation if they were ori­gin­ally taught the rules using abstract sym­bols. Those taught with [a meta­phor­ic­al aid] were unable to trans­fer what they’d learned.
  • Take naps: Naps as short as ten minutes can reduce sub­sequent fatigue and help boost con­cen­tra­tion.
  • Get handouts pri­or to the lec­ture: Stu­dents giv­en Power­point slide handouts before a lec­ture made few­er notes but per­formed the same or bet­ter in a later test of the lec­ture mater­i­al than stu­dents who wer­en’t giv­en the handouts until the lec­ture was over.
  • Believe in your­self: Stu­dents’ belief in their own abil­ity, called ‘self-effic­acy’, and their gen­er­al abil­ity both made unique con­tri­bu­tions to their per­form­ance. […] Instruct­ors that focus on build­ing the con­fid­ence of stu­dents, provid­ing stra­tegic instruc­tion, and giv­ing rel­ev­ant feed­back can enhance per­form­ance out­comes.

Understanding Wisdom

In a review of Steph­en Hall’s Wis­dom, Book­slut’s Jessa Crispin asks ‘Can we under­stand wis­dom?’ and looks at the evid­ence for and against.

Wis­dom is not the same as know­ledge, and so it seems odd it has attrac­ted the atten­tion of sci­ence. There is such a thing as “wis­dom stud­ies” now, and in his book Hall talks to research­ers and neur­os­cient­ists in a search for the latest inform­a­tion about wis­dom. Sci­ent­ists treat wis­dom the way they treat any­thing else. They break it down into its smal­lest com­pon­ents to identi­fy and test, and they attempt to fig­ure out how it works, how to obtain it, and what it is. [Hall says:]

To be wise is not to know par­tic­u­lar facts but to know without excess­ive con­fid­ence or excess­ive cau­tious­ness. Wis­dom is thus not a belief, a value, a set of facts, a cor­pus of know­ledge or inform­a­tion in some spe­cial­ized area, or a set of spe­cial abil­it­ies or skills. Wis­dom is an atti­tude taken by per­sons toward the beliefs, val­ues, know­ledge, inform­a­tion, abil­it­ies, and skills that are held, a tend­ency to doubt that these are neces­sar­ily true or val­id and to doubt that they are an exhaust­ive set of those things that could be known.

Accord­ing to Hall and the research­ers he has spoken to these are the eight “attrib­utes of wis­dom”:

  • Emo­tion­al Reg­u­la­tion
  • Know­ing What’s Import­ant
  • Mor­al Reas­on­ing
  • Com­pas­sion
  • Humil­ity
  • Altru­ism
  • Patience
  • Deal­ing with Uncer­tainty

via Intel­li­gent Life

Medicine, Specialism, and the Scientific Education

In the com­mence­ment speech he delivered to the gradu­ates of Stan­ford’s School of Medi­cine earli­er this year, Atul Gawande elo­quently (as ever) examined the state of mod­ern medi­cine (in the U.S. spe­cific­ally, the world gen­er­ally), the prob­lem with spe­cial­ism, and the prob­lem of spe­cial­ists try­ing to fit into a sys­tem not neces­sar­ily designed for it.

I par­tic­u­larly like Gawande’s ana­logy on the exper­i­ence of a sci­entif­ic edu­ca­tion:

The exper­i­ence of a med­ic­al and sci­entif­ic edu­ca­tion is trans­form­a­tion­al. It is like mov­ing to a new coun­try. At first, you don’t know the lan­guage, let alone the cus­toms and con­cepts. But then, almost imper­cept­ibly, that changes. Half the words you now routinely use you did not know exis­ted when you star­ted: words like arter­i­al-blood gas, naso­gast­ric tube, microar­ray, logist­ic regres­sion, NMDA recept­or, vel­lu­vi­al mat­rix.

O.K., I made that last one up. But the vel­lu­vi­al mat­rix sounds like some­thing you should know about, does­n’t it? And that’s the prob­lem. I will let you in on a little secret. You nev­er stop won­der­ing if there is a vel­lu­vi­al mat­rix you should know about.

via Intel­li­gent Life

The Ideas of Frank Chimero

Design­er Frank Chi­mero presents his ‘Ideas’: his mani­festo of sorts prin­ciples on cre­ativ­ity, motiv­a­tion and innov­a­tion. Chi­mero briefly cov­ers sev­en top­ics, entitled:

  • Why is Great­er Than How
  • Not More. Instead, Bet­ter.
  • Sur­prise + Clar­ity = Delight
  • Sin­cire, Authen­t­ic & Hon­est
  • No Sil­ver Bul­lets, No Secrets
  • Qual­ity + Sin­cer­ity = Enthu­si­asm
  • Everything is Some­thing or Oth­er

I’m par­tic­u­larly fond of the final two top­ics and this, from Why is Great­er Than How:

This com­plex world has made us over-emphas­ize How-based think­ing and edu­ca­tion. Once the tools are under­stood, under­stand­ing why to do cer­tain things becomes more valu­able than how to do them. How is recipes, and learn­ing a craft is more than fol­low­ing instruc­tions.

How is import­ant for new prac­ti­tion­ers focused on avoid­ing mis­takes. Why is for those who wish to push, are not risk-averse and seek to improve. How is coulda, Why is shoulda. How is fin­ish­ing tasks, Why is ful­filling object­ives. How usu­ally res­ults in more. Why usu­ally res­ults in bet­ter.

via Link Banana