Educators who are new to Brainscape's Confidence-Based Repetition learning technique are often worried that their students might not be mature enough to rate their confidence accurately for each flashcard. But that's not really that much of a risk, for a few reasons:
- People are quite good at assessing their confidence. In multiple cognitive science studies, when learners are asked to guess how many items from a list that they expect to remember the next day, they are relatively accurate in that guess. This is thus naturally also true at the individual item level. If I am confident enough to rate something a 5/5, then I am quite likely to really know that concept, versus something I rate a 1/5.
- Giving the wrong confidence rating can be good for you. If a learner mistakenly rates herself a high confidence, such as a 4, that means the flashcard won't come back for a long time (relative to other flashcards). But then when it finally does come back, the learner will realize she actually had forgotten it, and she will pay more attention to that item than if she had correctly assessed her confidence in the first place.
- People get better at assessing their confidence. Each time a user sees a repeated flashcard whose previous confidence rating does not correspond to her current confidence, she will subtly "recalibrate" her mental self-assessment knobs. Over time, her self-assessment skills will improve as a result, thus making her a better learner in general. Like #1 and #2 above, this is proven by ample cognitive science research.
- People will still see low-confidence cards. Even if a user over-confidently rates herself a 5 for every flashcard in a Deck, if she continues studying, those 5s will continue to repeat themselves (since the algorithm has no other flashcards to choose). So it's not like they're lost forever just because the user rated herself a 5. In other words, what's most important is the relative rating of flashcards against each other, rather than the absolute rating on the 1-5 scale.
To help ensure that students rate their confidence honestly for each flashcard, educators can reassure students that they will NOT be assessed for their "Mastery". If anything, they should just be graded for their participation in Brainscape. [See more ideas for lesson plans.]