Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning

This is such a great audiobook. I was browsing through different resources to help me study for my boards. I've been in the learning business for so long, I thought I knew how to study, but I didn't. 

The take home messages from this audio-book were:

1. Interleave : I use to study by subjects. But Brown argues that we should interleave subjects and it helps with retention better. So, now rather than studying MSK for one week, I study MSK for a few hours and go onto the next subject. Although this process doesn't give us the satisfaction of having mastered a subject, Brown shows evidence that interleaving is more effective at retaining materials, than to study a subject at a time. (I practice interleaving with tennis also; before I would only work on backhand or forehand. But, now I mixed up the shots because Brown shows that each of the individual strokes improves when we practice mastering a dynamic range, rather than a narrow field). 

2. Active Recall: I would read through contents and feel like I've done my duty to review the materials. But, Brown promotes actively recalling materials to improve retention. The most obvious way to do this is flashcards and multiple choice questions. What I've done now is to practice recalling differential diagnoses when I have a few minutes to spare while walking, eating, etc. This is a great way to keep distracting thoughts out of my mind too. :)

3. Mental models: Brown advised using mental models to learn materials matter. This is hard to do because you have to go the extra steps of synthesizing the materials and relating key information to other similar but different topics. I find that doing this helps a lot because you draw from other areas and that is more relevant information to help with recall. 

4. Acronyms and more: I wasn't a big fan of acronyms before but I am now. You have to memorize a lot of materials in radiology and you got to do what it takes. When I started putting everything into acronyms, I recall the materials better. This is how one of my colleagues remembers the deep veins in the arm (cephalic and basilic)...Basilic vein starts with B and it's closer to your boobs. I heard this 10 years ago and I still use it to this day. Apparently, the dirtier and more raunchy your memory trick, the easier it is to remember according to Joshua Foer (his book Moonwalking with Einstein is another must read) for life long learners). 

Overall, I love this book and highly recommend it anyone who has to seriously learn and memorize a whole lot.  I got an audio-book version (Audible from Amazon). 

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