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IES Grant

Title: Introducing Desirable Difficulties for Educational Applications in Science
Center: NCER Year: 2002
Principal Investigator: Bjork, Robert Awardee: University of California, Los Angeles
Program: Cognition and Student Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years Award Amount: $496,884
Goal: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305H020113

Co-principal Investigator: Marcia Linn

Laboratory research indicates that in many cases, interventions that appear to make learning more difficult and slow the rate of learning can actually be effective in enhancing long-term retention of information. The goal of this research is to determine whether the benefits of these "desirable difficulties" demonstrated in laboratory tasks can generalize to realistic educational materials and contexts involving middle school and college students using the Web-Based Inquiry Science Environment program.


Book chapter

Bjork, R.A., and Bjork, E.L. (2006). Optimizing Treatment and Instruction: Implications of a New Theory of Disuse. In L.G. Nilsson and N. Ohta (Eds.), Memory and Society: Psychological Perspectives (pp. 109–133). Hove and New York: Psychology Press.

Linn, M.C. (2003). WISE Research: Promoting International Collaboration. In D. Psillos, P. Kariotoglou, V. Tselfes, E. Hatzikraniotis, G. Fassoulopoulos, and M. Kallery (Eds.), Science Education Research in the Knowledge-Based Society (pp. 297–308). Boston: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

Linn, M.C. (2005). WISE Design for Lifelong Learning: Pivotal Cases. In P. Gardenfors, and P. Johansson (Eds.), Cognition, Education, and Communication Technology (pp. 223–256). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Linn, M.C. (2006). The Knowledge Integration Perspective on Learning and Instruction. In R.K. Sawyer (Ed.), The Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences (pp. 243–264). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Linn, M.C. (2006). WISE Teachers: Using Technology and Inquiry for Science Instruction. In E.A. Ashburn and R.E. Floden (Eds.), Meaningful Learning Using Technology: What Educators Need to Know (pp. 45–69). New York: Teachers College Press.

Linn, M.C. (2007). Knowing When, Where, and How to Study Student Learning. In J.C. Campione, K.E. Metz, and A.S. Palincsar (Eds.), Children's Learning in the Laboratory and in the Classroom: Essays in Honor of Ann Brown (pp. 137–162). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Linn, M.C. (2008). Teaching for Conceptual Change: Distinguish or Extinguish Ideas. In S. Vosniadou (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Conceptual Change (pp. 694–718). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Book chapter, edition specified

Linn, M.C., and Eylon, B.S. (2006). Science Education: Integrating Views of Learning and Instruction. In P.A. Alexander and P.H. Winne (Eds.), Handbook of Educational Psychology (2nd ed., pp. 511–544). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Richland, L.E., Linn, M.C., and Bjork, R.A. (2007). Chapter 21: Instruction. In F. Durso, R. Nickerson, S. Dumais, S. Lewandowsky, and T. Perfect (Eds.), Handbook of Applied Cognition (2nd ed., pp. 555–583). West Sussex, England: John Wiley and Sons, Ltd.

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Bjork, R.A., and Linn, M.C. (2006). The Science of Learning and the Learning of Science: Introducing Desirable Difficulties. The APS Observer, 19(3): 29–39.

Casperson, J.M., and Linn, M.C. (2006). Using Visualizations to Teach Electrostatics. American Journal of Physics, 74(4): 316–323.

Kornell, N., and Bjork, R.A. (2007). The Promise and Perils of Self-Regulated Study. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, 6: 219–224.

Linn, M.C., Husic, F., Slotta, J., and Tinker, R. (2006). Technology Enhanced Learning in Science (TELS): Research Programs. Educational Technology, 46(3): 54–68.

Linn, M.C., Lee, H.S., Tinker, R., Husic, F., and Chiu, J.L. (2006). Teaching and Assessing Knowledge Integration in Science. Science, 313: 1049–1050.


Richland, L.E., Bjork, R.A., Finley, J.R., and Linn, M.C. (2005). Linking Cognitive Science to Education: Generation and Interleaving Effects. In Proceedings of the 27th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 1624). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Richland, L.E., Finley, J.R., and Bjork, R.A. (2004). Differentiating the Contextual Interference Effect From the Spacing Effect. In Proceedings of the 26th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 1624). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.