Make It Stick Summary – January 2023

Author: Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, Mark A. McDaniel

Short Summary
Make It Stick (2014) by Peter C. Brown is a revolutionary book that highlights the usefulness of practice as opposed to mundane memorizing techniques for learning new skills or information and retaining it over time. It gives you an insight into why some approaches to learning are more effective than others.
make it stick summary

Detailed Summary

Learning is certainly a continuous process. It never ends and we need to keep learning. Whether it’s a new skill, idea, or approach – everything will eventually contribute to our growth as an individual. And that can be the key factor in achieving success in any area of life. The only limit is once again your mindset and unwillingness to let go of old beliefs and try something new. Openness to knowledge or new experiences could make all the difference in reaching higher goals than imagined before.

Make It Stick Summary looks at some of the best science and research behind what makes it easier to learn, remember and apply new skills or knowledge. It helps to break down how our brains work so that we can understand why certain strategies lead to better information recall. It then provides practical steps for implementing those strategies in your own life.

Whether you are a student, or teacher, or simply looking to upskill yourself, this book will guide how to optimize your learning process. You’ll gain insight into techniques like spaced repetition, testing effect, interleaving, and more. So that you can use them to make the most out of any learning opportunity. By applying its principles you don’t just advance professionally but also become more fulfilled mentally; an overall win-win situation.

Make It Stick Summary Key Points

The main idea behind this theory is that long-term retention can be more effectively achieved with more elaborate methods such as distributed practice, interleaved practice, self-testing, and spacing out study times than simply by rote memorization alone. Brown emphasizes the psychological aspects of achieving deeper levels of understanding rather than just surface-level knowledge. Some of the key points will be discussed in the Make It Stick Summary.

Key Point 1: The most common approaches to learning have proven to be extremely ineffective

Traditional approaches to learning in classrooms involve a top-down approach, where the teacher or instructor dictates topics and presents them with predetermined content. This does not allow for much critical thinking on behalf of the student. The information is already pre-packaged and merely needs to be absorbed by them. Additionally, classroom environments are often fast-paced, limiting the amount of time each topic can be discussed. As a result, students may not have enough time to understand concepts fully before they move on to either something completely new or a deeper discussion of an existing concept.

On the other hand, more effective learning processes take into account that everyone’s potential is unique and requires different strategies for optimization. More interactive activities such as simulations, role plays, and debates among peers allow students to explore ideas collaboratively while building upon their knowledge at their own pace within a safe environment. By engaging in these activities students can think critically about the material being presented, while connecting that material with their life experiences. Thus allowing them to make meaningful learning connections outside of school walls.

Key Point 2: Retrieval practice leads to better long-term learning than simply restudying the material multiple times

Students learn best when they have the opportunity to practice retrieving information, and this type of learning has been found to not only improve recall but also transfer knowledge. The retrieval-practice effect is a cognitive and memory phenomenon, where repeatedly retrieving information from long-term memory can lead to an increase in learning. When studying for material, it is more beneficial when learners are allowed to recall knowledge from their mental storehouse than if they were passively exposed to details. Retrieval practice can take many forms such as drills, quizzes, teacher-led activities, or self-assessment tasks in which students answer questions on their own.

Each of these methods serves to help strengthen a student’s understanding of a topic by providing feedback on what material was recalled correctly and where there are areas for improvement. The effectiveness of retrieval practice can be further increased when it is combined with spacing – spreading out assessments over time rather than massed together into one session helping build long-term memory retention better than traditional cramming approaches. When used continually through successive tests and topics, retrieval practice presents an effective way to increase mastery within a domain. While developing important fundamental study skills that last far beyond the initial exam cycle.

Key Point 3: You’ll become equipped with more knowledge as you understand any topic deeper and better than anyone else in your field

Your mastery of a subject will ensure you can explain yourself clearly and effectively. You’ll need an understanding of individual concepts and their relationships with others to make your explanation simpler, more cohesive, and easier for someone else to understand quickly. Having this skill also creates confidence which is essential when communicating with anyone. Once you know how each concept works together, you’ll be able to keep speaking confidently, even if one listener does not fully understand something initially. It gives room for further clarification enabling better conversation overall.

Writing about complex topics in simple words requires careful thought. Breaking down a complex idea into small components that are easy enough for everyone to follow along is an acquired skill that takes practice but pays off big time in the end. Also by breaking down a concept into smaller pieces it becomes easier for our brain cells to process. Remember back in high school when we had trouble getting through long equations until our math teacher broke everything down? This same technique can be applied here: break each idea apart from its components before moving on to another one so you can better understand why things are the way they are. 

Make It Stick Review:

I enjoyed writing the Make It Stick Summary because this book explained practical examples within each chapter. Readers can become more familiar with discussed concepts while getting a real-life application, as well as making an impressive reference list at the end of each chapter which provides further information concerning topics related to each lesson explored throughout the entire text. These sections were especially beneficial because they allow readers to dive deeper into important concepts mentioned within each subtopic, giving them various perspectives on matters they may not have considered before picking up this remarkable work.

To Whom do we Recommend the Make It Stick Summary?

  • Anyone who finds it difficult to study for exams.
  • Anyone who is simply curious about better methods of learning.
  • Anyone who is looking to learn techniques that can help them improve their memory and recall.

About The Authors

Make It Stick was authored by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III, and Mark A. McDaniel. All three are leading experts in the field of learning and memory who have dedicated their careers to understanding what it takes to make knowledge last. Peter C. Brown is a professor of cognitive science at Rice University in Houston; co-author Roediger is the James McDonnell Distinguished University Professor in Psychology at Washington University. Furthermore, St Louis; and author McDaniel is Ashbel Smith Professor of Psychology at Vanderbilt University, Tennessee.