Not Knowing What You Know

Fluency Learning

Alex Mayyasi summarizes a study (pdf) on the gap between perceived and actual learning:

One group saw a lecturer who presented with the skills of a TED speaker. The other watched the lecturer read haltingly from notes. Afterwards the students answered questions about how much they felt they had learned. As expected, students who had watched the lecturer with better presentation skills expected to remember more of the material, believed that they understood the material better, and rated their interest and motivation more highly than the students who watched the dud instructor.

But a test found that both groups had retained roughly the same amount of information:

The students who watched the skillful (or “fluent”) lecturer barely outperformed the students who watched the “disfluent speaker.” But they did much poorer than they expected to do, whereas the other group did about as well as they expected.

Drum adds:

If these results hold up, it means that flashy, TED-style lectures don’t actually impart any more knowledge than boring old-school lectures. But they do make you more confident that you learned something. Is that worthwhile all by itself? Or is it better to have a proper grasp of just how much you really know?