the cedar ledge

Make It Stick: the Science of Successful Learning

Date: July 12 2020

Summary: How to not only remember things but to understand work

Keywords: ##bibliography #learning #education #psychology #archive


P. C. Brown, Make it stick: the science of successful learning. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2014.

Table of Contents

    1. Feedback
    2. Effects of Quizzing
    3. Characteristics of Learning
    4. Notable Quotes
  1. How To Cite
  2. References
  3. Discussion:

The false idea that repetition improves memory traces back to the mid-1960's. Psychologist Endel Tulving, from the University of Toronto, tested people on their ability to remember lists of common English nouns.


Feedback has been extensively studied. [1] It can lead to the following conditions:

Frequent immediate feedback can be detrimental to long-term learning for motor skills at it provides a crutch during practice that isn't present during the test. [2]

Effects of Quizzing

Quizzing produced a significant improvement relative to no quizzing or directed review of target concepts on unit exams and on cumulative semester and end-of-year exams. A well-placed review quiz produced benefits on the exams that were as robust as several repeated quizzes in some cases.

This phenomenon was first researched at Columbia Middle School. [3], [4] They reported well-controlled experiments on the benefits of quizzing for middle school students' performances on classroom exams in social studies and science.

Characteristics of Learning

  1. Learning needs memory

  2. Learning is a lifelong endeavor.

  3. Learning is an acquired skill; often counterintuitive.

Notable Quotes

If you’re good at learning, you have an advantage in life.

How To Cite

Zelko, Jacob. Make It Stick: the Science of Successful Learning. July 12 2020.


[1] A. C. Butler and H. L. Roediger, “Feedback enhances the positive effects and reduces the negative effects of multiple-choice testing,” Mem. Cognit., vol. 36, no. 3, pp. 604–616, 2008.

[2] A. W. Salmoni, R. A. Schmidt, and C. B. Walter, “Knowledge of results and motor learning: A review and critical reappraisal.” Psychol. Bull., vol. 95, no. 3, p. 355, 1984.

[3] M. A. McDaniel, P. K. Agarwal, B. J. Huelser, K. B. McDermott, and H. L. Roediger III, “Test-enhanced learning in a middle school science classroom: The effects of quiz frequency and placement.” J. Educ. Psychol., vol. 103, no. 2, p. 399, 2011.

[4] H. L. Roediger III, P. K. Agarwal, M. A. McDaniel, and K. B. McDermott, “Test-enhanced learning in the classroom: Long-term improvements from quizzing.” J. Exp. Psychol. Appl., vol. 17, no. 4, p. 382, 2011.


CC BY-SA 4.0 Jacob Zelko. Last modified: November 24, 2023. Website built with Franklin.jl and the Julia programming language.