UPDATE December 2020: BBC Bitesize has moved the films here.

Back in December I gave a lecture to the staff of BBC Bitesize about how learning works and how they might go about making more effective learning materials. This talk has been turned into a series of three short animated films by the production company Mosaic. I think they’re pretty good. Here they are.

Film 1: How learning works: A quick guide to how we store and retrieve information

Film 2: The myth of multitasking and other modern misconceptions about how we learn

Film 3: Cognitive Load Theory: How to make effective learning content

I hope you enjoy them.

NB If you’re outside the UK and can’t view the films, I’m afraid there’s no immediate solution. Here’s a comment from the BBC:

It’s fantastic there’s so much interest, but in terms of making the content available to people from overseas, we’re unable to do this. BBC Learning’s funding stipulates that our content and resources are only made available to UK-based users. This is why our content is geo-locked and, for rights reasons, we wouldn’t be able to grant permission to a third party to make this content available to users from overseas.

For those who want references for the claims in the films, here you go:

Film 1: How learning works: A quick guide to how we store and retrieve information

Olusola Adesope, Dominic Trevisan, & Narayankripa Sundararajan. (2017). Rethinking the use of tests: A meta-analysis of the testing effect. Review of Educational Research, 87, 659 – 701.

Alan Baddeley, “Working Memory: Theories, Models, and Controversies,” Annual Review of Psychology 63 (2012): 1–29.

Elizabeth Bjork and Robert A. Bjork (2003). Intentional Forgetting Can Increase, Not Decrease, Residual Influences of To-Be-Forgotten Information, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 29(4): 524–531.

Elizabeth Bjork & Robert Bjork (2011). Making things hard on yourself, but in a good way: Creating desirable difficulties to enhance learning. In M. A. Gernsbacher, R. W. Pew, L. M. Hough, & J. R. Pomerantz (Eds.), Psychology and the real world: Essays illustrating fundamental contributions to society (pp. 56-64). New York: Worth Publishers.

Robert Bjork & Elizabeth Bjork, (1992). “A new theory of disuse and an old theory of stimulus fluctuation.” In A. F. Healy, S. M. Kosslyn, & R. M. Shiffrin (Eds.), From Learning Processes to Cognitive Processes: Essays in Honor of William K. Estes, (Vol. 2, pp. 35-67). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Nicholas J. Cepeda, Harold Pashler, Edward Vul, John T. Wixted, and Doug Rohrer, “Distributed Practice in Verbal Recall Tasks: A Review and quantitative Synthesis,” Psychological Bulletin 132, no. 3 (2006): 354–380.

Doug Rohrer and Kelli Taylor, “The Shuffling of Mathematics Problems Improves Learning,” Instructional Science 35 (2007): 481–498.

Nicholas C Soderstrom & Robert Bjork (2015). “Learning Versus Performance: An Integrative Review.” Perspectives on psychological science: a journal of the Association for Psychological Science. 10. 176-199. 10.1177/1745691615569000.

Film 2: The myth of multitasking and other modern misconceptions about how we learn

Robert A. Bjork, John Dunlosky, and Nate Kornell, “Self-Regulated Learning: Beliefs, Techniques, and Illusions,” Annual Review of Psychology 64 (2013): 417–444.

John Dunlosky, Katherine A. Rawson, Elizabeth J. Marsh, Mitchell J. Nathan, and Daniel T. Willingham, “Improving Students’ Learning with Effective Learning Techniques: Promising Directions from Cognitive and Educational Psychology,” Psychological Science in the Public Interest 14, no. 1 (2013): 4–58.

Paul Howard-Jones (2014) “Neuroscience and education: myths and messages”. Nature Reviews Neuroscience doi:10.1038/nrn3817

Kåre Letrud & Sigbjørn Hernes. (2018) “Excavating the origins of the learning pyramid myths.” Cogent Education (2018), 5: 1518638

Harold Pashler, Mark McDaniel, Doug Rohrer & Robert Bjork. (2008). “Learning Styles: Concepts and Evidence.” Psychological Science in the Public Interest. 9. 105- 119. 10.1111/j.1539-6053.2009.01038.x.

Melina Uncapher (2016) “Could you survive using only 10 percent of your brain?” Deans for Impact. Retrieved from https://deansforimpact.org/could-you-surviveusing-only-10-percent-of-your-brain/

Melina Uncapher (2016) “Exploring the Left Brain/Right Brain Myth.” Deans for Impact. Retrieved from https://deansforimpact.org/exploring-the-left-brainrightbrain-myth/

Film 3: Explainers explained: How to make effective learning content

Ruth Colvin Clark, Evidence-Based Training Methods (Alexandria, VA: ATD Press, 2015).

Ruth Colvin Clark, Frank Nguyen and John Sweller, Efficiency in Learning: EvidenceBased Guidelines to Manage Cognitive Load (San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer, 2006).

Chandler, Paul and John Sweller (1992). The Split-Attention Effect as a Factor in the Design of Instruction, British Journal of Educational Psychology 62(2): 233–246.

Paul A. Kirschner, John Sweller and Richard E. Clark, Why Minimal Guidance During Instruction Does Not Work: An Analysis of the Failure of Constructivist, Discovery, Problem-Based, Experiential, and Inquiry-Based Teaching, Educational Psychologist 41(2) (2006): 75–86 at 80.

Richard E. Mayer and Roxana Moreno, Nine Ways to Reduce Cognitive Load in Multimedia Learning, Educational Psychologist 38(1) (2003): 43–52;

Richard E. Mayer, Research-Based Principles for Designing Multimedia Instruction. In Victor A. Benassi, Catherine E. Overson and Christopher M. Hakala (eds), Applying Science of Learning in Education: Infusing Psychological Science into the Curriculum (Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2009), pp. 59–70.

John Sweller, Cognitive Load During Problem Solving: Effects on Learning, Cognitive Science 12(2) (1988): 257–285.

John Sweller, Paul Ayres and Slava Kalyuga (2011). Cognitive Load Theory: Explorations in the Learning Sciences, Instructional Systems and Performance Technologies (New York: Springer).