Psychologists have long known that people’s instincts about how well they’ve learned a subject are often way off. The feel of a study session can be a poor reflection of its nutritional value: Concepts that seem perfectly clear become fuzzy at exam time, and those that are hard to grasp somehow click into place when it counts.
In recent years, researchers have begun to clarify why this is so, and in some cases how to correct for it. The findings are especially relevant nowadays, experts say.
“So much of the learning that we do now is unsupervised, on our own,” said Robert A. Bjork, a psychologist at the University of California, Los Angeles, “that it’s crucial to be able to monitor that learning accurately; that is, to know how well we know what we know, so that we avoid fooling ourselves.”
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