Learning About Learning

A few years ago a study was conducted at Harvard University to assess the cognitive abilities of some of the brightest students in America. The two psychologists who conducted the experiment were curious to test the possibility that we are far less aware of our worlds than we think we are.


At National Career Education where we serve students in the Sacramento area, we tend to think our student body is pretty bright, too. And we encourage you to try The Monkey Business Illusion here:


Stop Now!

Spoiler Alert!


In this experiment a number of seemingly noticeable (and outrageous) occurrences go unnoticed to many people, things like...


  1. The huge gorilla that walks through the middle of the game (approximately half of the participants missed this).
  2. The curtain that changes color (about 75% of participants missed this).
  3. The player that is taken out of the game (about 75% of participants missed this).


So what is the point of this is, and how does it affect NCE students?


  1. Here is the take-home message: we can easily miss what is right in front of us. The implication of being aware of the things we have noticed, and not the things we’ve missed is that we are left with the assumption we always notice things.
  2. Harnessing the assumption that you notice everything when you in fact do not is more than a problem when it comes to fights with your boo/bae/babe. At NCE we think it’s important when it comes to learning! We want our students to know that even when they’re paying close attention, it is still possible to miss important information.


So what do we suggest?


Learning is a process, and it is impossible to absorb all the important details on your first try. In The Monkey Business Illusion the majority of us absorb only a small fraction of the events. This same logic applies in the classroom, which should remind us that we need to rely on more than our memory of lecture. We encourage students to do things like consult your notes, engage in peer study, ask questions, and read the course texts in order to gain a more complete understanding of the content, perform better on exams, and hopefully land that dream job after graduation!


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