Made to Stick
Heath, C., & Heath, D. (2007). Made to stick: why some ideas survive and others die. New York: Random House.
Summary: There is an actual formula to making ideas “sticky” (more likely to be remembered), and the authors use the acronym SUCCESs to help you remember it: Simplicity, Unexpectedness, Concreteness, Credibility, Emotional, Stories.
The “Curse of Knowledge” is the gap between the knowledge-holder (the speaker) and the listener who has no knowledge. The speaker has a hard time remembering to phrase things in a way that make sense to someone without the knowledge. An example is tapping out a Beatles song using a pen on a desk. It makes perfect sense to the speaker, but the listener can only hear one note and often can’t see the whole picture.
Implications for Teaching:
- All lecture content can be made “sticky” with a minimum of effort
- Keep the Curse of Knowledge in mind as you lecture, and remember to scaffold accordingly
- Keep ideas simple with overarching analogies and charts
- Generate a curiosity gap in students: they recognize that they don’t know something, but should.
- Avoid abstractions and conceptual thinking until ideas are understood at a concrete level first
- Use demonstrations and real examples to make ideas seem credible and also rooted in reality
- Transform analytical ideas into something that hits them in the gut (or the heart) to make it memorable (example: a lab safety video could be boring, but if you show a cow eyeball dissolving in acid, they remember it better)
- Stories have a unique power to inspire and engage; isolate the “learning” you want them to master, and wrap it around a narrative