Learn More Effectively – Make It Difficult!

Some research was recently published (in January 2011 edition of Cognition by  Connor Diemand-Yeoman et al) which looked at how different type face fonts impacted on our ability to take in the information.

It always pays to maintain a healthy scepticism about research as much of it is done on young students, an easy resource for most psychology departments (in this case I think it was Princeton University and a group of undergraduates). Results don’t always universally transfer to the population at large when other factors are included. However, in this case, the research makes sense to me.

Hard to Read

The researchers discovered that, flying in the face of conventional training wisdom, the more difficulty students had reading a particular font, the more they retained the information. Whereas most of us try to make our training, information (or marketing) as accessible as possible! Maybe we should start to be a little more obtuse…?

Of course, students have  a built in reason to learn; they will tested in some way on what they know. But the research does have a resonance with what we know about how powerful doing things differently can be, why mind mapping works, and why some of the most powerful learning in our lives often stems from difficult and painful times.

So next time someone criticises your writing, tell them you’re actually doing it to help them! And if you have some notes to learn, try altering the font it’s in to something more challenging and conduct your own piece of research! I’d love to know how you get on!


Posted on January 17th, 2011 by

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