A little confusion helps students learn

The most effective teachers are the ones who can explain complicated subjects so clearly that their students get it the first time, right? Maybe not, Nate Kornell says at Miller-McCune. A “growing mountain of research” suggests that struggling for understanding is a key part of the learning process.


In one experiment, researchers got high school teachers to change the text in their presentations and handouts from clear fonts to “disfluent” fonts such as Monotype Corsiva.The teachers used the clear fonts with one class and the disfluent fonts with another. The students who had to struggle to read the text came away with better test scores.

“Telling people the facts isn’t always enough,” Kornell concludes. “They have to work through the information for themselves. Sometimes the hard way is the easy way.”