Interleaved mnemonic medium prompts uncover reading comprehension lapses, sometimes unpleasantly

The Adjunct questions embedded into the Mnemonic medium do double duty. They’re primarily written as Spaced repetition memory system prompts, meant to be practiced repeatedly to reinforce long-term memory. But because Mnemonic medium prompts are interleaved into the reading experience, they also function as reading comprehension checks. Many readers told us that they finished reading a section, started the embedded review, and then discovered that they had no idea what some of the questions or answers were talking about. This feedback caused them to re-read the relevant section.

This is a specific instance of a more general effect: Reading comprehension questions can uncover textbase holes.

That said, I’ve gotten many reports from readers which imply that it’s often unpleasant to have comprehension gaps identified in this way. The relevant prompts often feel arbitrary and capricious. It often doesn’t feel like a failure of understanding—rather, it feels like the question is confusing or poorly worded, or it’s not clear why the answer is meaningful or true. And there isn’t a natural intervention available in current systems (Choice of intervention in a spaced repetition memory system must depend on reason for failure).

Last updated 2023-11-23.