Is there a way to detect spaced repetition memory prompts which are likely to be answered through pattern matching?

See Spaced repetition memory prompts should be written to discourage shallow “pattern matching”.

Perhaps through response times?


Matuschak, A., & Nielsen, M. (2019, October 0). <i>How can we develop transformative tools for thought?</i>

How can we ensure users don’t just learn surface features of questions? One question in Quantum Country asks: “Who has made progress on using quantum computers to simulate quantum field theory?” with the answer: “John Preskill and his collaborators”. This is the only “Who…?” question in the entire essay, and many users quickly learn to recognize it from just the “Who…?” pattern, and parrot the answer without engaging deeply with the question. This is a common failure mode in memory systems, and it’s deadly to understanding. One response, which we plan to trial soon, is to present the question in multiple different-but-equivalent forms. So the user first sees the question as “Who has made progress etc?”; but then the second time the question is presented as a fill-in-the-blanks: “___ and his collaborators have made progress on using quantum computers to simulate quantum field theory.” And so on, multiple different forms of the question, designed so the user must always engage deeply with the meaning of the question, not its superficial appearance. Ultimately, we’d like to develop a library of techniques for identifying when this learning-the-surface-feature pattern is occurring, and for remedying it.

Last updated 2023-07-13.