Dr. Lori Breslow: Upskilling Your Learning Abilities and Productivity | Work in Progress #30

In this episode, host Gabriella Joustra is joined by Dr. Lori Breslow, an MIT Sloan senior lecturer and founder of the MIT Teaching & Learning Laboratory (TLL)

The frustration and anxiety associated with learning can hinder educational progress. Several approaches can break monotony, enhance adaptability, and alleviate stress during the learning process.

Meet Dr. Lori Breslow

Dr. Lori Breslow is a Senior Lecturer in Managerial Communication at the MIT Sloan School of Management. From 1997 to 2015, she was the founding director of the MIT Teaching and Learning Laboratory (TLL), which serves the institute as part of the office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education. 

As TLL’s director, she designed, led, or supervised over 80 studies on educational change. Along with educational researchers at TLL and Harvard and collaborators in MIT’s Department of Physics, Dr. Lori did some of the earliest research on Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

Dr. Lori’s research focuses on the development and impact of pedagogical, curricular, and technological innovations in higher education. Her current studies include examining the use of the MITx platform in blended learning courses, and a multi-institutional, international study of the teaching and learning of communication as a 21st-century skill.

About the episode

Learning is the acquisition and mastery of new knowledge and skills for retention and long-term transfer. Superficial learning, as described, involves learning something to pass an exam, whereas deep learning involves mastering a subject and using that knowledge in novel situations. Cognitive psychologists identify these two types of learning, with the former being more common but less effective for long-term retention and problem-solving. 

Learning efficiently and effectively is essential for strategic learners and improving productivity. This involves encoding, storing, and retrieving information, with strategies like chunking to keep information in working memory. 

Dr. Lori also mentions the effectiveness of flashcards for retrieval practice and introduces the concept mapping technique for learning complex ideas by creating diagrams that illustrate the connections between concepts. She acknowledges that learning can be challenging and frustrating but offers these strategies to improve the learning process.

Dr. Lori looked into the emotional component of learning, specifically self-efficacy, which is the belief in one’s ability to learn a task. She suggests looking up to role models and seeking encouragement from friends as ways to build self-efficacy and reduce anxiety. Additionally, identifying intrinsic or extrinsic motivations can help keep learners engaged and focused during learning.

The self-regulated learning concept, which involves tactics and strategies, can also help make learning effective. One such strategy is monitoring progress and setting goals. Being aware of one’s current level of proficiency can help set the next achievable steps. Dr. Lori also mentions using gamification, such as Duolingo, to provide interim rewards and motivation.

Learning with a study buddy, even when not in the same physical location, can also provide benefits. Setting goals and checking in with each other can effectively foster learning and productivity. This approach can be particularly useful for online courses. 

Individuals must decide whether multitasking enhances their focus on learning or distracts them. She shared that taking breaks and returning to a problem with a fresh perspective can aid learning, and learning separate topics on different days can improve problem-solving skills. 

In conclusion

Learning is a multifaceted process involving acquiring knowledge and skills, with a distinction between superficial and deep learning. Strategic learners employ techniques like chunking and spaced retrieval to enhance efficiency and effectiveness. Concept mapping, self-regulated learning, and collaborative study sessions with a buddy contribute to a more comprehensive and effective learning experience. Additionally, recognizing the impact of breaks and focused multitasking on learning highlights the nuanced and individualized nature of successful learning strategies.

Be the first to see our next episode. Follow us on social media to stay updated:





You can also subscribe and listen to the show on your preferred podcasting platforms:

Apple Podcasts



iHeart Radio




Google Podcast

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.