Expert response heuristic, after Issa Rice

Issa Rice suggests that one useful heuristic for writing prompts for a Spaced repetition memory system (and in particular for the Mnemonic medium) is that someone who’s already an expert in that topic should be able to answer the prompt without referring to a specific mnemonic essay or source.

When a prompt fails this heuristic, it’s usually encoding author-specific interpretation, framing, example, wording, etc. This is often helpful, particularly as a sort of Elaborative encoding or a way of cultivating emotional interest. But it can also produce parochial understanding. In the case of shared prompts, or of the mnemonic medium, such prompts can produce frustrating false negatives, since they ask readers to learn how a specific source presents material: Mnemonic medium readers sometimes feel impeded by authors’ wording choices.

There’s an interesting relationship here to Evergreen notes should be concept-oriented.

Q. According to the expert response heuristic, how should SRS prompts be written?
A. So that an expert in that topic could answer them without referring to some specific source material.

Q. When an SRS prompt does not follow the expert response heuristic, what limitations on knowledge learned may ensue?
A. It may be a parochial encoding of the knowledge.

Q. Why are shared SRS prompts often frustrating when they do not follow the expert response heuristic?
A. They may privilege a specific source’s presentation of some idea, rather than focusing on what is universal.