FormulatingKnowledge

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20 Ways of Formulating Knowledge

Source: https://www.supermemo.com/en/articles/20rules

1. Do not learn what you don't understand.

Understand as much as the material before learning, interact with it.

2. Learn before you memorize

Do not start from learning loosely related facts, try to get a background that links them together.

3. Build upon the basics

-- Build upon simpler models, which are easy to learn and comprehend. -- Basics are usually simple to learn and retain, don't neglect them.

4. Minimum Information Principle

  • The material must be formulated as simply as possible.
* Simple material is easy to remember -- simple -> few possible variants to travel a path -> synaptic path forms itself better
  • Repetitions of simple items are easier.
* Item of two subitems is suboptimal.
  • BAD*:

> What are the characteristics of the Dead Sea? > Salt lake located on the border between Israel and Jordan. Its shoreline is the lowest point on the Earth's surface, averaging 396 m below sea level. It is 74 km long. It is seven times as salty (30% by volume) as the ocean. Its density keeps swimmers afloat. Only simple organisms can live in its saline waters

  • GOOD*:

> Q: Where is the Dead Sea located? > A: on the border between Israel and Jordan > Q: What is the lowest point on the Earth's surface? > A: The Dead Sea shoreline

Except for times when you need to actually recite it -- remembering what you remember.


5. Masking parts of sentences:

> Q: Kaleida was funded to the tune of $40 million by ...(companies) in 1991

6. Use imagery

 - The visual cortex is well-developed in humans
 - Verbal processing greatly inferior to visual processing power
 - Mind maps
 - 

7. Use mnemonic techniques

 - Amazingly effective

8. Avoid sets

 - A set is a collection of objjects.
 - *BAD*: What countries belong to the EU? 
 - If they are necessary, convert them to *enumerations* (make them ordered -- and listed always in the same order) or **grouping**
 - Listing members in varying order at each repetition has a disastrous effect on memory

9. But avoid enumerations too

 - Not as bad as sets but still bad
 - It's better to use masking when they're unavoidable:
 - *GOOD*: 
   - What three letters does the alphabet begin with?
   - Fill in: A ... ... ... D E 
   - Fill in : B C ... ... F G 
 - Here we use OVERLAPPING masking, memorizing the order is helped by the other questions.

A poem split into multiple items: > Q: The credit belongs ... (Teddy Roosevelt) > A: to the man who's actually in the arena >Q: The credit belongs to the man who's actually in the arena ... >A: whose face is marred by dust and sweat (a man who knows the great >enthusiasm)

>Q: whose face is marred by dust and sweat ... (The credit belongs) >A: a man who knows the great enthusiasm and the great devotions (who >spends himself in a worthy cause)

>Q: a man who knows the great enthusiasm and the great devotions ... (The >credit belongs) >A: who spends himself in a worthy cause (who in the end knows the >triumph of high achievement)

>Q: who spends himself in a worthy cause ... (The credit belongs) >A: who in the end knows the triumph of high achievement (so that his place shall never be), etc. etc.

11. Combat interference

 - Similar words/concepts are bad for memory
 - *Interference* is when knowledge of one item makes it harder to remember another item.
 - Detect and eliminate:
   - Make items as unambiguous as possible
   - Minimum information principle

12. Optimize wording

  • BAD*

> Q: Aldus invented desktop publishing in 1985 with PageMaker. Aldus had >little competition for years, and so failed to improve. Then Denver->based ... blew past. PageMaker, now owned by Adobe, remains No. 2 >A: Quark

  • GOOD*:

>Q: PageMaker lost ground to ... >A: Quark

(Here the other information is inconsequential; if they are important, store them in separate items)

14. Personalize and provide examples

> Q: What is the name of a soft bed without arms or back? (like the one at Robert's parents) > A: divan

15. Rely on emotional states

 - Vivid and/or shocking
 - Don't overuse same tools (sonst interference)

16. Context cues simplify wording

> "What does GRE stand for in biochemistry?" > "bioch: GRE"

17. Redundancy doesn't contradict minimum information principle

 - Reasoning cues to interact with the material 
   - You don't write the answer, but how to get there
   - Derivation steps -- same as above
 - Multiple semantic representation
   - Described from different angles 
 - Flexible repetition
   - When more than one possible answer

18. Provide sources

 - Where I got the info from
 - Mark it when everything's complicated ("Other sources differ!")

19. Prioritize

 - Multiple knowledge sources -- see which one I could/should expand, at the cost of which others 
 - Extracting knowledge
   - Learn just what is needed or will be needed
 - Formulating items
   - Optional/explanatory comments in parenthesis, so my attention is focused on the actual information