Learn Deliberately

Modified on by Andrew Cohen

Students Learn Deliberately

As adults, if we are actually purchasing an educational web or iPhone app, it’s likely because we want to learn the subject – not because a parent or teacher is forcing us.  Why, then, does most adult-oriented educational software spend so much time trying to motivate us through cheesy animations, games, and quizzes that we can share with our friends?  Why don’t curriculum designers create a platform where adults who deeply care about a topic can conveniently learn it on our own schedule, giving us our own ability to control precisely what is learned and how progress is measured?  Why isn’t the focus on creating a product that helps us learn faster rather than just help us have fun while learning?

Learn Better-Learn Deliberately

The problem seems to be instructional designers’ lack of respect for the power of adults’ intrinsic motivation.  While it is true that younger children with little intrinsic interest in a subject (say, biology) may benefit from “fun” & “engaging” activities, adults who really want to learn a language or score high on a graduate entrance exam do not need such frills.  “Score”-oriented quizzes containing multiple choice and matching questions may actually harm performance results.

The good news is that new mobile study applications such as Brainscape have stripped out the bewildering range of settings and features that exist in most other mobile study applications, in order to focus your study time using one simple method – the method that optimizes your learning efficiency.  This system of confidence-based repetition allows YOU to be in control, so that you are only learning what you need to learn, in the pattern best suited for your own purposes.  As a side benefit, scientifically optimized learning software such as Brainscape can actually improve your learning skills long after you have stopped using it.

Brainscape recommends that you should focus your learning energies on topics where you feel deep intrinsic motivation.  Indeed, becoming a true expert requires the frequent and targeted application of deliberate practice (Ericcson et. al, 1993).  If you really need a fun game in order to learn something (vocabulary, guitar, Spanish, or whatever), then you probably don’t really want to learn it all that badly.


Ericsson, K. Anders; Krampe, Ralph; and Tesch-Romer, Clemens. The Role of Deliberate Practice in the Acquisition of Expert Performance. Psychological Review, 100 (3), 363-406.

Brainscape is a web & mobile education platform that helps you learn anything faster, using cognitive science. Join the millions of students, teachers, language learners, test-takers, and corporate trainees who are doubling their learning results. Visit brainscape.com or find us on the App Store .


Judy 8 years ago

I am trying to learn Geography. I find it real helpful the way you repeat the countries I am having trouble with. I am determined to learn the location of all the countries in the world. I am challenging myself to prove to myself that I can do it! (I'm 74 and am trying to keep my mind active)

Amanda Moritz 8 years ago

Thanks for your comment, Judy! I bet you can learn the locations of every country, and I'd love to have an update when you do.

Good luck!
Amanda Moritz

Z 8 years ago

I'm in high school and am taking Chinese class but it seems like most of the info deletes itself before I get home. I'm soon going to be taking a trip to china in a school organization. I really want to learn the language before I go overseas. I'm very happy because with brainscape it feels like I'm actually learning.

Amanda Moritz 8 years ago

wonderful!!! have a fantastic trip. Sounds like an amazing opportunity :)

Isgenderlielyar 10 years ago

I use brainscape gre vocab and i would say that it is the best way to study words. I am such a busy person that it is almost impossible for me to study words daily. This app just makes everthing so easy. I found out about this app like 3 days ago. Now i am trying the free one. I will by it as soon as i learn all the words in free version. Thank you.

Amanda Moritz 10 years ago

That's great! Definitely look into the GRE Vocab Genius app, as it has thousands of words, and is really a great deal.

Taylor 8 years ago

I love that your team has taken the time and interest to really find out what is best for the "serious learner". Do you have any idea if you have a Massage Therapy section?

Amanda Moritz 8 years ago

Not yet. But you can create your own massage therapy decks in the Brainscape app (bit.ly/BrainscapeApp) or on Brainscape.com!

Shariq 8 years ago

I like the easy and novel concept of learning through repetitions. This software Brainscape helps to learn accurately and quickly.

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