The Problem with Graduating from University

If you’ve read my Cognitive Productivity books, then you know one of my most important hypotheses about knowledge workers:

After graduating from university, most drop one of the most important study/mastery strategies: systematic self-testing about the information they process.

Whereas popular books on expertise (e.g., Malcom Gladwell’s Outliers) argue that expertise requires deliberate practice, they fail to explain how to incorporate practice in one’s information processing workflows.

I’ve developed the concept of productive practice, which is based on research on test-enhanced learning, deliberate practice, meta-cognition and expertise. The concept is aimed at lifelong learners, whether or not they are employed as knowledge workers. It is part of an overall framework for selecting and processing information with technology.

My latest blog post for Smile makes the case for productive practice. It explains why people don’t realize they need to practice the gems of knowledge they encounter. This in turn explains why people tend to forget even the most useful ideas they encounter.

I also discussed the concept of productive practice on Mac Power Users last week, hosted by David Sparks and Stephen Hackett. There I distinguished productive practice from related ideas. For instance, in that episode, I pointed out that simply reviewing (e.g., re-reading) information is not sufficient to develop mastery. I also discuss the heuristic relevance-signaling hypothesis, which partly explains why self-testing and practice work.

Published by

Luc P. Beaudoin

Head of CogZest. Author of Cognitive Productivity books. Co-founder of CogSci Apps Corp. Adjunct Professor of Cognitive Science & of Education, Simon Fraser University. Why, Where, and What I Write. See About Me for more information.

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