Hey there, good to see you, I’ve got a little game for you I’m going to show you a list of letters on screen for five seconds It’s your job to memorize as many as you can and then write them down or just say them aloud when you’re done Oh and no pausing, ready? Go! Alright go ahead and list as many as you can, count them up and then hang on to how many you remembered My second real video essay on this channel was called why you’re bad at exams, but great at video games now It wasn’t my best work, but it was the start of a series called thought burst which evolved into the psych of play you know now For some reason our dear friend the YouTube algorithm recently decided to push that video big time which feels like divine intervention That just may be almost two years later. I should do the follow-up video to it like I promised my boy Austin Ward and the original gang of about 100 subscribers that being said in this video I’ll be doing those folks and all of our new friends a solid and take a peek under the hood of the generation effect and how to incorporate it into your studying I also found some other related studies that I think will really help you guys out So I will also be covering those in this episode new research As a heads-up because there is so much I want to share with you enchanting people today This one’s gonna be pretty chunky compared to my other episodes in terms of run time FYI: This video will make a ton more sense if you’ve watched the original, so if you missed it, feel free to go give it a quick watch. Here’s the link, but just to briefly refresh your memory If you have seen it to the generation effect is an awesome little phenomena that Norman SLO Mecca and Peter Graf stumbled upon back in 78 essentially people tend to remember information much more efficiently if they generate the information themselves as opposed to just consuming it For example, if you come up with antonyms for a list of 20 words You’re way more likely to remember those words later than if you have just read 20 random words given to you And this is why most people can memorize a good bit of the Pokemon type chart after only a few hours of battling Instead of just reading the chart passively you’re actively making and producing decisions on when to use the different types of attacks based on different types of opponents It’s an active process, which is a word you will hear me repeat a lot in our time together today So over the course of four very strategically named chapters. Let’s break down the generation effect, active learning, how video games use these to teach us and how we can use them to prepare for exams and even life more effectively Chapter 1
Chunking, Clumping and Mom’s Pizza Alright how many letters did you remember?
5, 8, 12 Most of you will likely remember around five to nine of them. Let’s try this again. Except this time I’ll change how the letters are presented, five seconds get as many as you can, no pausing ready? go! How did you do this time? I’d be willing to bet that a lot of you did significantly better you may have even gotten 9 or more letters this time and if I display the letters like this it had probably make it a little too easy Way back in 1956 cognitive psychologist George Miller published some research that came to be known as the magical number 7 (+, -) 2 Miller found that most people can keep around 7 pieces of information in their working memory at one time give or take 2 – based on your age and abilities. These pieces can be numbers, letters, words, ideas and so on That said it’s very possible to keep all of these 18 letters in your short-term memory Which is well above that 7 (+, – ) 2 range. This is made possible If you can store these as acronyms instead of individual letters Which is a technique called chunking, if you can group smaller units of information into meaningful clumps You can keep more in your working memory and take full advantage of the limited number of slots So in our example CBS, LOL and FBI aren’t just random letters and they’re meaningful acronyms that you can use to get those 3 letters into one spot and unpack later But we aren’t here to talk about 7 (+, -) 2 two because this only pertains to short-term memory and on an exam Short-term memory won’t be enough. We need to be able to retain information for long periods. So why bring up chunking? Well, let’s rewind a bit C, B, S, L, O, L, F, B and I are actually arbitrary letters on their own if you show this to someone who has never watched TV, texted or is simply unfamiliar with the acronyms chunking would not be a good option for them The reason chunking works for most people in this example is that you actively retrieve information you already have stored in long-term memory and unpack that information to elaborate on the letters presented You actively add meaning to them to make them more memorable a great example of using this in a studying context is that lovely little phrase my very excellent mother just served us 9 pizzas Thanks to this we can recall the names and order of the planets anytime. Although I heard Pluto isn’t a planet anymore So I guess, I guess my mom just served us nine on blu-ray She’s still very excellent, though The lesson here is don’t be afraid to create your own acronyms or sentences when possible because it’s a great way to use chunking maybe you need to remember the noble gases. So you make up a sentence like “Randy never had a kangaroo Xylophone”, but you know, maybe maybe do a better job than I do Acronyms and mnemonic devices are fantastic ways to generate new information in your own way, but they’re only scratching the surface One of the things I saw mentioned in the comments of the original exam video was that it wasn’t simply generating attacks based on arbitrary factors over and over that helped people memorize the Pokemon chart It was also that the type chart makes conceptual sense water douses fire extreme cold stops plants from growing Electricity is easily conducted in water and so on and I couldn’t agree more these relationships between types is a huge part of why memorizing the chart is doable much like the acronyms the types have a preconceived meaning behind them a logic that you already fully understand and is now easy to apply to this complex set of rules You already know that no one has ever put out a fire by dousing it with a bucket of crickets So it’s easy to remember that bug attacks are not very effective against arcanine You see we can also chunk relationships and remember things long term from mental images We create like a bug getting scorched or a wrestler being totally confused Chunking is not limited to letters and words It’s also very applicable to concepts and ideas If you can remember the image of Tinker Bell being pelted with an anvil you can remember the steel attacks LOL Are strong against the fairy Pokemon, look guys, let’s face facts here not all of the Pokemon chart makes logical sense But there is nothing wrong with using something goofy you make up or creating your own logic to remember it because 1-. You made it up So the generation effect suggests That you’ll remember it and 2-. Not everything on the type chart and certainly not everything you learn in school will make immediate logical sense but by finding a way to chunk a unique set of ideas into a memorable image or an acronym that you can unpack on an exam is a huge advantage It’s sort of the same idea as having your own Mind Palace like Sherlock except instead of rooms you’ll have janky acronyms and the mental image of And the mental image of Tinkerbell getting murdered Why that goes so dark with that example? So when studying create some mental imagery if you need to remember who the Axis powers were in World War 2 Maybe you imagine Hitler reading manga and eating spaghetti that, wow, that feels wildly offensive. I’m so sorry, but you get the idea Quality content, they’re (?) The point i’m trying to make is that we can use chunking in a variety of ways to store things into our long-term memory for the exam But the only way we can do that is to connect something new we’re trying to learn to something we already know or create be it a situation an image or even ourselves and our interests In a nutshell you actually want to make what you’re trying to learn more complicated except you want to complicate it with something you’re already comfortable with something you understand or create and that’s why I try to make a lot of metaphors when I write these videos because new ideas are so much easier to understand when you can actively make connections to something familiar when you actively manipulate information in your own way and reproduce it the facts now have associations with the emotions and visual memories you’ve created and this is one reason games teach us how to play them. so effectively an arrow being super effective against a flying unit in Fire Emblem may or may not make logical real-world sense because you know a flying horse would probably be much harder target to hit than a dude running around with spiky boxing gloves, but when Ingrid got one shotted on my first run of three houses And I wanted to dropkick my TV to Avenger I learned it very quickly that flying units are weak against archers now I know that’s a really basic example, but I think the logic still holds true I didn’t just have the rules of the game written down in a textbook I saw it happen in rich vivid detail and I’ll always have that moment to chunk the relationship between the units and this can really be applied to anything you learn in a game because you aren’t simply reading and highlighting the tutorial or the manual you’re experiencing all of the scenarios and controls Firsthand at least if it’s a well-designed game instead of being slapped with one of these you get a level that teaches you as you go, you’re creating associations between the game’s mechanics and the sights sounds and moments that happen as a result of those mechanics games force you to learn how they work in a very elaborate way that textbooks and lectures can’t do on their own and this brings me to the biggest takeaway I can possibly give you in this video Flashcards, I mean, sorry, a repetition, repetition, I bet that’s what I meant to say. Hey Daryl, make sure that chapter 3 says repetition and not flashcard Chapter 3
Or repetition I’d like to tell you a few pros and cons of lecture notes and textbooks and a segment I’d like to call a few pros and cons of lecture notes and textbooks Pro they provide the inner workings of whatever subject you’re studying Pro they provide great detail Con they only provide the facts or equations in the form of text sometimes charts Con this can be overwhelming if we’re relating this to video games It’s as if a chapter in a textbook is a tutorial on just a big hefty lengthy texty tutorial that you dread getting through and then in two weeks, you have to face the final boss and you get one life Meanwhile, you haven’t actually played the damn game. You’ve just been told about it or read about it on its own It’s unfair and a lot of the comments in the original video pointed this out. We don’t get the battles We don’t get the safe points to let us fail in a safe environment Unless is math in which case you should be grinding experience from as many practice problems as you can get your hands on But for the subjects that are mostly memorization or comprehension We sort of have to design our own mid-game From the textbook or from lecture notes all the battles, all of the safe points and all of the unique scenarios That’s how we’ll effectively learn the quote-unquote mechanics of the class and the best way to recreate that experience In your studies is through high repetition of self-quizzing flashcards are your friends, do practice problems early and often, and quizzing your friends from the notes is the best academic Co-op you can play let’s talk about it If studying was a fighting game flashcards would be your S tier your meta because 1-. if you create them yourselves and incorporate your own imagery and acronyms like we discussed earlier not only will you be getting a lot of repeated experience with the subject matter but you’ll be learning it in your own unique way Hey real quick as an aside be creative here when you make these flashcards But don’t be inaccurate if you want to rewrite definitions or facts in your own way. Great please do but also please be sure not to lose the true meaning along the way, ok, back to the show on the contrary to flashcards highlighting the textbook or notes on repeat is your weenie hut junior tier several studies by Fowler and Barker found the highlighting does very little good if any and most cases sometimes it may even hinder performance which makes sense it it’d be like screen capping the tutorial and then reading it over and over in your spare time Instead of actually going and playing the game and learning first hand Of course, if you love highlighting and you feel like it helps by all means continue Just understand that it can’t really replace actively manipulating the subject matter I cannot recommend self-quizzing enough though via flashcards or practice problems But it’s incredibly vital that you do it often and not save things for the last second hundreds of studies over the past 50 years have all supported something called the spacing effect Essentially your long-term memory of a concept is much better developed If every time you study is spaced apart in time rather than done in immediate succession in other words Studying for huge chunks of time is not always best short and daily study sessions are ideal I’m talking like 30 minutes per subject So for those of you that pull all-nighters and cram stop it get some help Instead if you can just commit to self-quizzing every day or even just five days out of the week for a short period of time You won’t need those stressful all-nighters and by the way this makes time management much easier because as folks pointed out last time several classes at once like several games at once can be abundantly overwhelming and a lot of instructors don’t take into account that their class is not your only class Chapter 3
The Counterargument, the Retort and the Scuba Driver Now then some of you may say Flashcards are for multiple choice exams. What if I have an essay exam or my prof doesn’t just test definitions and factoids They expect a deeper comprehension of the subject Well, I’m glad you asked because my answer isn’t changing self-quiz to your credit though You don’t necessarily need to use flashcards Practice exams or practice essays are also great, but self-quiz nonetheless Here’s why? Several studies from 2009 and 2011 have found that practice testing can benefit you even when the format of the practice tests Doesn’t match the format of the actual test improvement for short answer comprehension and inference based multiple-choice tests have all been improved in the lab when using Self-quizzing. Oh, and for those of you that struggle with math, this holds true as well except instead of flashcards You’ll need to practice the type of calculations. You’re going to see on the exam Heavy repetition is just as beneficial when you need to learn and method as opposed to memorizing explicit facts Plus it makes it very clear where you’re struggling and where you should invest more time And here’s something really cool If you can stay on topic truly One of the best ways to self-test is to do so with a friend or two. It provides a really unique opportunity If your friend quizzes you that’s great that’s repetition. But if you quiz them it’s also doing you a ton of good It’s a form of active elaboration because if you form a question to quiz them on it involves you Understanding the information enough to manipulate it and have the right answer in mind So try to come up with a tough question because that makes you chew on the content in a way you may not have yet again You’d be generating the information in a very unique way, this kind of reflects the whole the best way to learn is teach notion Which there is a good bit of supporting research behind if you’re interested links in the description One of the last tips I want to give you today is to pay close attention to Where you study the sights and sounds around you when you learn the information Back in 75 – legends named Dr. Godin and Dr. Badly ran experiments When they had one group of folks read a list of words on land while the other group read the list of words underwater wearing a scuba gear I cannot make this up and I promise I’m not saying you should study with lobsters But the results of this were actually pretty mind-boggling half of the subjects were later asked to recall as many of the words as they could in the same location their read them and the Other half are prompted in the opposite location and those that recalled words in the same environment They learned it did much better in both cases. This study suggests that if you learn something Underwater you’re more likely to remember it later if you are quizzed on it underwater What time to be alive The lesson here is to try and study in the same place? you’ll be taking an exam if you can show up early to an exam or just Get into the lecture hall when classes are out and do some self quizzing there. That’ll have a lot of benefits. Of course You know, this isn’t always realistic. You can’t always access that area. But an environment is only a bunch of audio-visual Information, so if you can’t bring yourself to that place bring that place to yourself Maybe imagine yourself in the exam room when you study if you have a quiz or an exam online Try to study in the same place. You take it or better yet You can create an environment for that subject with audio Listen to one type of music when you study for one particular subject and right before the exam Try to have that soundtrack looping in your mind. I used to do this a lot when I browsed back in college I might be listening to this soundtrack whenever I was studying for chemistry or you know, maybe I was Listening to this song whenever I was studying social psych It doesn’t really matter. What kind of soundtrack you listen to since you know, this effect works if you’re hearing freaking Finding Nemo But try to use music that doesn’t have words You don’t want to fill your phonological store with the words of the song It’s hard to listen to Taylor and your internal voice reading your notes, but hans zimmer or Yuki Hayashi should be just fine. Seriously though music can prime your mind for the subject You’re about to test on I don’t need to explain the rules of this game or even what it looks like just this little bit of music should tell you all you need to know an Environment be it formed through music or visuals is just another way to actively elaborate on the information. You’re trying to learn To wrap this up. I kind of want to address the elephant in the room Studying isn’t always exciting exams aren’t always fun And school is typically a drag at least in the presence of other alternatives We live in a world filled to the brim with interesting content once-in-a-lifetime events, must play games more great TV than you could ever reasonably watch in a lifetime and all those things are much more enticing than studying because they are more immediately Rewarding than studying. There’s no bombastic fanfare that plays and you finish your homework There’s no new inspiring Soundtrack playing during your third lecture of a day and you’ll never go to the midnight release of the latest political science textbook Or maybe you will I don’t know you Consequently, it’s up to you to find ways to make school immediately rewarding if you can have the discipline to only allow yourself that new Game after your next A on an exam you may find yourself more determined to do polynomials than you were before Maybe you can reach into the bag for another Dorito only after you get two flashcards, right? Be creative in how you study. That’s the best psychologically backed advice I can give you. Use the research I have strategically gathered for you today and find your own ways to make studying and self-quizzing immediately rewarding because let’s be honest high performance in school is genuinely Rewarding but only in the long term and that’s not always easy to keep in mind So do everything you can to make studying less of a pain and more effective Elaborate on the content as much as you can connect new concepts to things you already understand or create Self-quiz early and often and remember to keep your fairies out of steel factories I’ve been Darryl you’ve been amazing. Thank you for joining me. And remember you can do this 😉