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Making Flashcards That Will Help You Learn Mark Mitchell & Janina Jolley, 2014 Clarion University of Pennsylvania

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1 Making Flashcards That Will Help You Learn Mark Mitchell & Janina Jolley, 2014 Clarion University of Pennsylvania Click here to get started (if asked, please choose “enable macros”) Click here to get started (if asked, please choose “enable macros”)

2 Welcome, ! Have you ever felt that you knew the material, but had trouble with the test questions because of how they were worded? A.Frequently B.Sometimes C.Rarely D.Never (Please click on the brown box corresponding to your answer)

3 Why People Often Feel Tricked by Tests—Especially Multiple-Choice Tests 1.We have a general notion of what a concept is, but our knowledge is not as specific as the field of study requires. For example, many Americans have an idea of what gluten is, but their knowledge would not satisfy a chemist. 2.The differences between related concepts can be small, and so we may overlook those small differences. 3.Definitions are often abstract and composed of many parts, so looking at definitions may lead us to grasp only part of the concept. 4.Examples may give us a limited or misleading view of the concept. (Children seeing many dogs may still call a horse a “dog” or call a big dog a “bear.”) 5.Terms may have one use in everyday language (“experiment”) but a different, often more specific, meaning in a technical field. 6.We have the illusion that we know more than we do.

4 How Can We Learn Rather Than Just Think We Learned? Carefully crafted flashcards can help you learn and then remember key terms.  Specifically, you need to make both definition and examples cards.  You are probably already familiar with the Definition Flashcard. Carefully crafted flashcards can help you learn and then remember key terms.  Specifically, you need to make both definition and examples cards.  You are probably already familiar with the Definition Flashcard.

5 How to Use Flashcards to Understand the Concept’s Definition: Overview Let’s make our first “Definition” flashcard by 1.Putting the name of the concept (the term) on the front of an index card. 2.Getting the concept’s definition from your text, your professor, or a reliable source, and put that definition on the back of that index card. 3.Understanding the words making up the definition. 4.Identifying, numbering, and understanding the separate aspects of the definition.

6 Steps in Making a Definition Flashcard: Making the Front First, make a definition card by 1.Writing the term (the concept’s name)on the front of the card. If your term was negative reinforcement, write “negative reinforcement.” 2.Writing “Definition” below the term. negative reinforcement Definition Front

7 Steps in Making a Definition Flashcard: Making the Back Copy the term’s definition (e.g., “occurs when a behavior is increased by taking away an aversive stimulus.”)—but not the term itself—from your textbook or from a reputable source on to the top of the back of your flashcard. Do it now.

8 Steps in Making a Definition Flashcard At this point, your card looks like this: negative reinforcement Definition occurs when a behavior is__ increased by taking away an aversive stimulus._____ ___ _______________________ Front Back

9 Tips on Making a Definition Card Although the first part of the definition card is easy to make, you can also probably find one already made. 1.Some books come with flashcards. 2.Flashcards can be obtained online from sites, such as You will probably learn better if you handwrite the card yourself. However, the important things are to have accurate definitions and to understand those definitions.

10 Reflection Question Have you ever memorized a definition, but A.Did not really understand what the definition meant? B.Had trouble applying it to new examples? C.Had trouble explaining to other people what the term actually meant? D.All of the above. (Please click on the brown box corresponding to your answer)

11 A Problem With Memorizing Definitions As your answer to the last question reveals, people have trouble learning by just memorizing definitions. One problem they have is that they don’t unpack the definition. They get into trouble by trying to take the definition in all at once.

12 Design Your Flashcards to Help You Unpack Your Definitions As you will see, your flashcards can help you unpack your definitions. Flashcard A four-part definition

13 Use the Back of Your Definition Card to Unpack the Concept Text definition: “ Occurs when a behavior is_______ increased by taking away an aversive stimulus.”__ _________________________________________ Do it now. 1.If there are individual words in this definition that you do not know (e.g., “aversive”) but can look up in an English dictionary, define them on that card. 2.If there are discipline-specific, technical terms in the definition that you do not know (e.g., stimulus), look those up in your text’s glossary and make another definition card for each of those terms.

14 What the Back of Your Definition Card Might Look Like

15 Working on the Back of Your Definition Card Underline and number the key elements of the definition. Tips: 1. It may help you to put the different parts of the definition in different colors. 2. If the term has two words (e.g., negative reinforcement, conditioned stimulus), note which parts of the definition relate to which parts of the term. You may even wish to make a separate card for each word in the term (e.g., one for “negative” and one for “reinforcement”). Do it now.

16 What the Back of Your Definition Card Might Look Like

17 Back of Your Definition Cards: Checklist 1.Have you copied the definition of the term from your textbook or reputable online source on to the back of your flashcard? 2.Have you noted words or terms in this definition you do not know (e.g., aversive), defined those words or terms—either on that card or on separate definition cards? 3.If, after defining the individual words, the definition still doesn’t make sense to you, did you write your own definition? 4.Did you underline and number the key elements of the definition?

18 Use the Back to Revise the Front On the back of the card, you figured out the number of key elements the definition has. Put that number on the front of your card. Specifically, put it right below the term and put it in parentheses. In this example, it would be (2). Do that now. negative reinforcement (2) Definition Front Text definition: “Occurs when a (1)__ behavior is increased (2) by taking away an aversive stimulus.”__ ____ ______________________________ “aversive” means unpleasant.______ Back

19 Learning From Definition Flashcards Now that you have your definition flashcards, how do you learn from them? 1.Assemble a set of definition flashcards. To be effective, this set should include – a large number of terms. – some similar terms. 2.Shuffle the cards and put the definition side facing you

20 Learning From Definition Flashcards 1.Assemble a set of definition flashcards. To be effective, this set should include – a large number of terms. – some similar terms. 2.Shuffle the cards and put the definition side facing you. 3.Say the term that the definition represents. 4.Turn the card over to see if you are correct. Text definition: “Occurs when a (1)__ behavior is increased (2) by taking away an aversive stimulus.”__ ____ ______________________________ “aversive” means unpleasant.______ “Negative reinforcement”

21 Learning from Definition Flashcards Naming the term from the definition will probably be a fairly easy task. However, if you never make a mistake, it may be that you need to add more terms (especially related terms) to your “deck” of cards— and shuffle your deck more.

22 Learning from Definition Flashcards As we just stated, you should, occasionally, make mistakes. However, if are really having trouble with a term, you should ask yourself whether A. You know and understand the concept, but either haven’t remembered the term’s name (e.g., In learning Spanish, you know what red is but you can’t remember that the word for red is “rojo”) or you mix the term up with a similar sounding term (e.g., you know what the cerebrum and cerebellum are, but you confuse the two names)? B. You do not fully understand the concept and thus have not fit the whole concept into your mind (e.g., you confuse cerebrum and cerebellum because you know only that both are parts of the brain)?

23 Learning from Definition Flashcards If you are mixing the terms up because the names for the terms look or sound similar (e.g., cerebrum and cerebellum), 1. Practice saying them aloud, concentrating on how they sound different. 2. Realize that there is often a reason they sound different (e.g., there is a reason that psychologists use different terms for positive punishment and negative reinforcement). If you find out that reason, learning the term will be easier. 3. Even when you don’t know why the terms sound different, you can still use the difference in how they sound to accent how they are different. For example, you might say that the cerebellum, because it is involved with balance and coordination, allows one to dance gracefully while playing bells.

24 Learning from Definition Flashcards If your problem is that you don’t fully understand the concept, it may be that you are using only one aspect of the concept’s definition (e.g., “dogs have four legs,” “cerebellum is a part of the brain,” “negative reinforcement involves an aversive stimulus”). In that case, ask yourself whether you A.need help understanding the other part(s) of the definition, or B.whether you simply need to focus on all those parts. In that case, ask yourself whether you A.need help understanding the other part(s) of the definition, or B.whether you simply need to focus on all those parts.

25 Learning from Definition Flashcards If your problem is that you are too focused on one aspect of the concept’s definition: Text definition: “Occurs when a (1)__ behavior is increased by (2)_ taking__ away an aversive stimulus.”__ ____ ______________________________ ______ Text definition: “Occurs when a (1)__ behavior is decreased by (2)_ adding an aversive stimulus after the_____ undesired behavior occurs.”__ ____ ______________________________ Negative Reinforcement Positive Punishment 2. highlight the parts of those definitions that differ. 1. compare, side by side, the definition of the correct term with the definition of the incorrect term.

26 Learning from Definition Flashcards If you give the wrong term for a definition four or more times: 1.Put that term in red and in brackets on the front of your card. Thus, if you were giving “Positive punishment” for the “negative reinforcement” definition, the front of your card would look like this: 2. Aloud, say why you confuse them (How they are similar). 3.Aloud, say why you should not confuse them (How they are different). 4.Aloud, say why you will not confuse them on the test. negative reinforcement (2) Definition {positive punishment} Front See an Example See an Example

27 Creating Examples Cards

28 Which Example to Put on the Examples Card Because we think in pictures and examples, rather than in definitions, find an example that helps you remember, visualize, and understand the concept. This example may be from your book or from your professor. Be sure that you understand how this example is consistent with the key aspects of your definition.

29 Making the Front of An Examples Card 1.Write down the name of your term. 2.Below that, write “Examples” Negative reinforcement Examples Front

30 Making the Back of Your Examples Card 1.Write down an example of your concept. This example may be from your text or from your professor. 2.Match the key elements from your definition card to that example. 3.Underline and number those elements. Example: The baby gets his mother (1) to hold him more (2)by stopping his crying when his mother picks him up. ____ Back (Example card) Text definition: “Occurs when a (1) behavior is increased (2) by taking away an aversive stimulus.”____ ____________________________ Back (Definition card)

31 Learning From Examples Flashcards 1.Assemble a set of example flashcards. To be effective, this set should include – a large number of terms. – some similar terms. 2.Shuffle the cards and put the example side facing you. 3. Say the term that the example represents. 4.Turn the card over to see if you are correct. Example: __ Example: The baby gets his______ mother (1) to hold him more_______ (2)by stopping his crying when his__ mother picks him up. _____________ “Negative reinforcement”

32 Learning From Example Flashcards If you are giving the wrong term for an example, find the cards related to both the right term and the wrong term. Then, 1.look at the examples, side-by-side, to see how they differ. 2.look at the definitions and see how the different examples fit the different definitions. Write: “I confuse this term with ______. Although they are similar in that they both _____, they differ in that ________.” In other words, spell out which key elements each term has and which elements they do not share.

33 Each example that you create should be 1.Visual and memorable. 2.As different from the example you already have on your card as possible, while still being consistent with the definition. Make it different by  using a different individual (maybe even use a different species)  using a different situation. Completing Your Examples Card If the example is based on a rat, you might use a human; if it is from the lab, you might use a real life setting.

34 Text/professor example: (2) A baby cries until Mom picks it up. (1)Mom picks it up to stop the_ crying.____________________ _____________________________________________ _____________________________ _____________________________ Find your examples card. Then, underneath the example you borrowed, add your own example. Do That Now

35 Text/professor example: (2) A baby cries until Mom picks it up. (1)Mom picks it up to stop the crying.______ ____________________________________________________ My example: My dog whines until I start scratching her ears, so I scratch her ears to stop the whining._______ _____________________________________ What Your Example Card Might Look Like 2 Example adapted from Appleby, 2013.

36 Make Sure Your Example Is Correct 1.Go back to the key elements of your definition and see if they are included in your example. Number and underline the parts of your example corresponding to those key elements.

37 Ways to See Whether Your Example Is Correct Text/professor example: (2) A baby cries until Mom picks it up. (1)Mom picks it up to stop the crying.___ __________________________________________ My example: (2) My dog whines until I start scratching her ears, so (1) I scratch her ears more than I used to because I want to stop the whining. 2. Compare your example to the example you borrowed. Your example should differ from the borrowed example, but it must have the same key elements.

38 Ways to See Whether Your Example Is Correct 3.Out loud, explain why your example fits. “I now understand that my dog has been negatively reinforcing me for scratching her ears because something I don’t like stops (i.e., whining) when I do the desired behavior (i.e., scratch her ears) and she has increased my doing that behavior (scratching her ears).”

39 Ways to See Whether Your Example Is Correct 4.If, during the definition sorting or example sorting phase, you did confuse this concept with a different concept, explain why your example is not an example of that competing concept. 5. If you are still unsure about your example, ask your teacher or classmates.

40 Dealing With Really Tricky Concepts If there are a few pairs of terms that you are really having trouble with (e.g., negative reinforcement and positive punishment or proactive interference and retroactive interference), you can reduce your confusion by adding a small table to the relevant examples card.

41 Adding to a Table To Your Examples Card: Step 1 Start by just noting that you confuse two terms. So, if you confused positive punishment for negative reinforcement, you could add the following partial table to your negative reinforcement card. Negative reinforcement Positive Punishment

42 Adding to a Table To Your Examples Card: Step 2 If you continue to confuse the two terms (e.g., positive punishment and negative reinforcement), number, label, and list the ways that they differ. At this point, your table might look like this: Negative reinforcement Positive Punishment Key difference(s) 1. Their effects Increases behavior. Decreases behavior. 2. Timing of unpleasant event Unpleasantness occurs before desired behavior. Unpleasantness starts after undesired behavior

43 Adding to a Table To Your Examples Card: Step 3 If you are still getting the terms confused, add examples that illustrate how your concepts differ. So, after the third time, your table might look like this: Negative reinforcement Positive Punishment Key difference(s) 1. Their effects Increases behavior.Decreases behavior. 2. Timing of unpleasant event Unpleasantness occurs before desired behavior. Unpleasantness starts after undesired behavior. Example Parent yells before and until child starts cleaning up room so child starts cleaning up room. Parent yells after child writes on walls so child stops writing on walls.

44 Conclusions I: Making Cards Before you try to memorize a term, understand what the term means. Specifically, know what its key features are, know some examples, and know how it differs from related terms. – Differentiating a new concept from other related concepts is often the last— and the hardest—thing to learn. Make your cards work for you by making sure that your cards help you see the concept’s key features, provide you with good examples, and distinguish concepts from similar sounding and similar meaning concepts. If a card doesn’t seem to be helping you, add examples, arrows, pictures, or tables to it. – Sometimes, just highlighting key parts of the card or writing the different parts in different colors will help you.

45 Conclusions II: Using Your Cards Don’t just quiz yourself using the term side of the card. Instead, when you first begin learning a term, look at the definition or example side and then saying the name of the term. This will help you (a) understand the term and (b) connect the term’s name to the concept.

46 Conclusions III: Next Steps Now that you have learned the concepts, you need to remember them. What is the best way to do that? In the next tutorial, we will give you the surprising answers to that question.tutorial But first, please take the quiz on the next few slides so that you can show off what you have learned.

47 References Appleby, D. C. (2013). A flashcard strategy to help students prepare for three types of multiple choice questions commonly found on introductory psychology tests. Retrieved from Documents/otrp/resources/appleby13flashcard.pdf Brown, P. C., Roediger, H. L., III, McDaniel, M. A. (2014). Make it stick: The science of successful learning. Cambridge, MA: Belknap. Oakley, B. (2014). A mind for numbers. New York, NY: Tarcher-Penguin. Young, S. (2010). Learn more, study less! Publisher: Author.

48 Acknowledgments We would like to thank Dr. Jeanne Slattery, Dr. Jamie Phillips, Mr. Ryan Devlin, and Dr. Scott Kuehn for their insightful comments on earlier versions of this presentation.

49 Quiz Question The hardest thing to learn (and the thing multiple-choice tests are good at testing) is telling the difference between two concepts. True False

50 Quiz Question You should only test yourself by looking at the “term” side of the card and asking yourself what the definition or example is. True False

51 Quiz Question One good example is all you need to learn a concept. True False

52 Quiz Question Doing a good job in making your cards will help make memorizing the concepts much easier. True False

53 Get your results


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