Desirable Difficulties in Convenient Coursework

The article below shares an intriguing idea to ponder: difficulties in learning can help students better retain material. Flashcards are an example: students see limited information (for example, a word) and try to remember more information (for example, a definition or translation). The article discusses how students often come to online courses because they’re convenient, but convenience doesn’t necessarily translate to learning.

The author suggested using fonts that are slightly more difficult to read, as this forces the student to take their time to process (and in turn, better learn) the material.

How do we approach this concept as educators? We’ve shared a number of resources on accessibility; the greater the accessibility, the more people can use it, and everyone generally benefits, too. One suggestion for increased accessibility has been to use easy-to-read fonts, but the article suggests less readable fonts might help with learning. How might we consider the concept of desirable difficulties to increase retention while making sure the education we offer is accessible?

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