Cognitive Science for Learning



The Feynman Technique 

During my initial research on cognitive science, I was struggling to find  an article that I could really relate to. I took to finding inspiration from fellow students of the PIDP 3100 by reading various blogs and learned of Richard Feynman from Brent DiGiuseppe’s blog, Never Stop Learning.

Richard Feynman was a well-known, Noble Prize winning theoretical physicist who assisted in the development of the atomic bomb during World War II. Ranked as one of the top ten scientists of all time by British journal  Physics World, Feynman developed a simple mental model to help learn, remember and simplify concepts.


What I really like about this method is that it is any easy and effective way to teach yourself and or others using four quite simple steps.

1 Chose a concept: Chose a concept or idea that you may not fully understand, write it down .

2 Practice teaching or explaining the concept: Once you have a basic understanding of the concept write the explanation down in a way that you would explain this new knowledge to someone else. This will help solidify the points that you fully understand and give you a chance to review anything that is more of a challenge.

3 Identify gaps and refer to source material: If you are struggling with any part of the concept go back to the books or any lecture notes to ensure a full understanding in order to explain what you know.

4 Review and simplify: Read and review your concept explanation and keep in mind that simple wording is more effective than wordy text book style description. Read aloud as if you are teaching your concept to class that is unfamiliar with the information that you offer. Creating an analogy is also a good way to help visualize a concept by simplifying the language into a more familiar format.

I could see myself adapting the Feynman technique to my own learning and to instructing others. These 4 steps will be very helpful in understanding more complicated theories of adult learning.When it comes to instruction I will use this model to ensure that my explanation of carpentry methods and theory is simple and effective. It would be good practice for me to follow these steps to ensure that I am comfortable with the classroom topic delivery and capable of presenting it without causing any confusion to my students.

For more info read this article on the Feynman Technique-Scott H Young.


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