Found in 8 comments on Hacker News
> On a more meta level, it feels like we’ve barely touched the margins of how humans learn best. That’s always struck me as odd.

It's very well studied. I'd start by reading a cognitive science textbook and go from there. I have Cognition by Reisberg[0], it was well-written and well-structured.

Alternatively, an entertaining and informative popular account is Make It Stick by Brown, Roediger and McDaniel[1].

I do agree that the research findings are greatly underapplied, though.



oropolo · 2020-01-28 · Original thread
Creating a quiz of the material covered and then taking that quiz a few days later. The act of memory recall reinforces learning... one of the many "tricks" picked up from the book "Make It Stick" --
MarkMc · 2018-12-19 · Original thread
> Should I be re-reading/re-listening to certain chapters? Keep notes and refer back to them often?

No - simply re-reading your notes or the original text is not optimal and can give you a false sense of progress.

It's important that your repetition involves active recall - that is, you must close the textbook/notebook and try to recall the key definitions and ideas. Only then should you open your notebook and compare your current knowledge with the original information. If there are large gaps in your knowledge, schedule the next review soon otherwise leave it longer.

I've found it's quite painful to sit and force my mind to grasp onto ideas which are just out of reach, especially when the information is just a click away, but it leads to much better retention of important knowledge.

A great book on this subject is Making It Stick:

jbarciauskas · 2018-02-06 · Original thread
This article is untethered from the mammoth amounts of research that's been done specifically on how people learn. The answer to this question doesn't lie in anecdotes about various professors' "philosophy", in fact that kind of approach is a huge barrier to actually improving the learning that occurs on college campuses. This is an opinion article, so I understand it's not thorough reporting, but the author should familiarize herself with the literature.

A book like is accessible and provides a good survey of what we know about how the brain learns and remembers things, and how it relates to existing practices.

hugja · 2017-11-07 · Original thread
Any books or other resources you recommend to learn these things? On learning to learn I have enjoyed A Mind for Numbers[1] by Barbra Oakley with Coursera course[2], Make it Stick[3] by Peter C. Brown, and How We Learn[4] by Benedict Carey.





MarkMc · 2017-04-20 · Original thread
There's a great book called 'Making It Stick' which details effective, proven methods to improve memorisation and learning. Spaced repition (or more generally active recall) is one of those major methods.


I just read the audiobook version of this:

It's pretty good.

The main idea is that learning is supposed to feel hard. That sense of frustration and confusion is what building new neural connections feels like.

troydj · 2015-08-12 · Original thread
Don't be depressed. This is normal. All memories are subject to gradual decay. The best way to prevent this decay is by reviewing and testing yourself on the material you want to remember. Unless one reviews or uses specific knowledge regularly, corresponding memories will fade on courses taken, books read, bugs fixed, technologies or languages learned, code that's been understood (read) or written, etc.

If you only spent a few weeks working on that new project, then you probably didn't spend near the amount of time Bill Gates spent writing, thinking about, and reviewing his Altair BASIC code. Even though he whipped up his code in less than a month or two prior to the first MITS demo, he likely spent weeks or months after that demo modifying and polishing the BASIC interpreter for subsequent releases. You didn't mention your experience level, but Gates' years of prior programming experience likely benefited him as well, providing him with a nice cognitive framework to which lots of these facts could "stick."

One additional thing: when Gates says he still knows the source code for Altair BASIC by heart, it probably doesn't mean "completely, line-by-line" by heart. I'm guessing it means he still remembers some snippets by heart, or that he believes he could re-write it from scratch from memory (which would still be exceedingly impressive).

Some useful resources on memory and learning:

Memory and Learning: Myths and Facts (

Want to Remember Everything You'll Ever Learn? Surrender to This Algorithm (

Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning (

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