I’ve read that cards should strike a balance between being challenging and doable. This makes sense, because why put them in if they are already very easy or if the card is too challenging learning will be inefficient.
I’ve also read that some people like to make their cards evolve over time, even going so far as to make cards that eventually become trivially easy more difficult, which can lead a fuller grasp of the subject as the card takes on additional scope and difficulty.
I agree that cards should by dynamic, being refactored and changed to find a balance in difficulty, but I’m unsure about the end-game of long-lived cards.
My question: Should long lived cards be purposely changed to become more difficult, or is it better to make new additional cards that would take care of adding additional challenge?
I maybe lean more towards the later because if a card stays challenging forever then it doesn’t really identify a piece of knowledge that you are ‘fluent’ with. Instead you internalize some state of the cards past. Why not just create new cards unless there are obvious deficiencies that need to be addressed with refactoring?
I don’t understand the line of thinking here. If a card has matured and its interval is long, you’ve effectively memorised it. Making it harder to encourage failures or even recreating the card again to start from scratch sounds like a misuse of SRS. It’s in your long term memory now, when you need it it’ll come to you. Move on and learn new things.
That’s what I thought too, but I read elsewhere that it’s good to keep cards challenging.
I also found it confusing, so maybe I misunderstood what I read earlier.
I do think it’s good to adjust a card in the beginning to find the right amount of difficulty, but yeah after that changes for difficulty might be counter to the idea of having it in long term memory.
After some digging I found the source which lead to my confusion How to write good prompts: using spaced repetition to create understanding. I believe it’s really good, and the author has a lot of other interesting thoughts.
Anyways, here is what he said:
Retrieval practice prompts should be effortful. It’s important that the prompt actually involves retrieving the answer from memory. You shouldn’t be able to trivially infer the answer. Cues are helpful, as we’ll discuss later—just don’t “give the answer away.” In fact, effort appears to be an important factor in the effects of retrieval practice.For more on the notion that difficult retrievals have a greater impact than easier retrievals, see the discussion in Bjork and Bjork, A New Theory of Disuse and an Old Theory of Stimulus Fluctuation (1992). Pyc and Rawson, Testing the retrieval effort hypothesis: Does greater difficulty correctly recalling information lead to higher levels of memory? (2009) offers some focused experimental tests of this theory, which they coin the “retrieval effort hypothesis.” That’s one motivation for spacing reviews out over time: if it’s too easy to recall the answer, retrieval practice has little effect.
For more on the notion that difficult retrievals have a greater impact than easier retrievals, see the discussion in Bjork and Bjork, A New Theory of Disuse and an Old Theory of Stimulus Fluctuation (1992). Pyc and Rawson, Testing the retrieval effort hypothesis: Does greater difficulty correctly recalling information lead to higher levels of memory? (2009) offers some focused experimental tests of this theory, which they coin the “retrieval effort hypothesis.”
I may have focused on that mostly while reading it, because now I notice he says this in the same article
The schedule will rapidly remove easy material from regular practice while ensuring you frequently review the components you find most difficult.
Also, he says that you shouldn’t try to be ‘cheap’ with making cards
Prompts are cheaper than you probably imagine. An easy prompt will consume 10–30 seconds across the entire first year of practice, and much less in each subsequent year. Until you’ve internalized that observation, try to adopt this rule of thumb: write more prompts than feels natural.
It seems I confused what I read and thought they meant cards should stay hard to retrieve from memory, when in fact as we both said the whole point is to internalize them, getting past that stage.
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