“Make it Stick”

Brown is a writer and novelist in St. Paul, Minnesota. Roediger is James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of Psychology at WashU. McDaniel is Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for Integrative Research on Cognition, Learning, and Education (CIRCLE) at WashU.

Book Recommendation Series: The third Monday of every month, we recommend amazing books on learning and the college process, every one guaranteed mind-blowing.

B y the time Make it Stick came out in 2014, I’d been teaching study skills based on practical applications of the science of learning for three years. From my obscure, third-floor oceanside office in the UC Santa Barbara Student Resource Building, I’d tried to teach anybody who would listen that highlighting, cramming, and learning styles were all baloney.

Imagine my excitement when the Harvard University Press published, Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning, by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel, which confirmed that everything I’d been teaching in that odd little study skills job was backed by research on how students learn. No wonder my students had been reporting such great results!

Roediger and McDaniel are psychologists at Washington University in St. Louis and Brown is a writer, so the book is packed with examples from scientific research, written in an engaging way, and structured to actually make sure you learn the stuff that the book is trying to teach you. Pretty slick, huh?

Make it Stick explains that students should quiz themselves regularly, but not so frequently that the quiz is too easy because they mostly still remember the stuff from the last time. The trick is to quiz yourself after you’ve forgotten it a little bit. The fact that it’s hard is what makes it stick. Anything else, and you’re just fooling yourself about what you know, you know?

Sticklers will love that the book has 40 pages of citations, while regular folks will enjoy the broad spectrum of real-life examples of learning presented. It’s easy to see why Make it Stick is everybody who cares about learning’s favorite book on the subject.

Read it, remember it, live it.

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