Flashcarding

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Chef Curry
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Flashcarding

Post by Chef Curry »

I have recently started flashcarding the things that I come across in packet study but I feel as if there are some disadvantages that make the entire process not worth it. First it is extremely time consuming. Second, it is easy to get clues such as works of authors or philosophers confused if serious time is not put into reviewing flashcards (I do it on quizlet). My question is, what do you guys do when it comes to packet study? I highlight and flashcard but am starting to doubt its efficiency. Is there an easier method that seems to work for some people, if so what is it?
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Re: Flashcarding

Post by Oh No You Didn't »

If you're trying to find an easier method to learn things then you might just be approaching this wrong
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Re: Flashcarding

Post by Invisible Rail »

The Man Whose Pharynx Was Bad wrote:If you're trying to find an easier method to learn things then you might just be approaching this wrong
I think the problem here is one of efficiency, not difficulty. Flashcarding isn't impractical because it's hard, it's impractical because it takes a lot of time and has a payoff less than the value of the investment. Some methods work for some people but not others - what methods worked for you, Andrew? If it was flashcards, what did you do to make it an efficient study method?

I've never been a huge fan of flashcarding, myself. I usually find just writing things down and repeating them (writing questions helps with this too) to be the best method of learning new information. And in case I misinterpreted your initial post and you really were looking for an easy strategy for learning material - it doesn't exist. Studying is about finding a method that allows you to recall the material best. If not flashcards, maybe question writing. If not question writing, maybe just reading textbooks and other sources is the way to go. Find your own best path to success, and stick with that.
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Re: Flashcarding

Post by heterodyne »

Charlemagne wrote: I've never been a huge fan of flashcarding, myself. I usually find just writing things down and repeating them (writing questions helps with this too) to be the best method of learning new information.
Isn't that what flashcarding is?
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Re: Flashcarding

Post by LHDoroschuk »

At least for me, carding is the best way to learn titles. I use Mnemosyne on my computer for my cards, and I card everything I learn. However, science and history are best studied by actively reading material in those fields. Literature is the easiest to flashcard (titles, authors, characters) but obviously reading is the best way to get deep information and early buzzes. Writing questions is great because it forces you to research the material you are writing about.

To answer the original question, I love carding. It helps me keep everything straight. However, you have to card efficiently for it to be useful. That's why I use Mnemosyne, which schedules your cards by day, so that you focus on stuff you don't know more than stuff you do know. To get good at quizbowl you have to play the long game. I've organized the packets in the db for myself by difficulty, from there I try to do one single round a day. The more cards you get the faster you'll breeze through packets, so this can increase over time. What you do is read the question, take a clue and write it down in your own words. I like to write my clues like a tossup clue ("This city is the capital of France", "This man led the expedition to capture Pancho Villa", "This author wrote Of Human Bondage", etc...). Some people prefer it in question form, whatever really works for you. Now for review. The reason I love Mnemosyne is because it schedules your review sessions and manages what cards are being seen more often (based on a 0-5 difficulty system), but you can control how many cards you do per day. So on a normal day I try to keep it around 200 cards. If you're new to the way that software works it's not too hard to figure out. Now overall, I say that if I'm studying one packet and doing one review session that's about 1 to 2 hours a day, which isn't bad at all.

As for writing, as I said earlier it's an awesome way to flesh out what you know and research a topic. I like to write about things I know about and that interest me, but in order to get better, you also need to write about things you are weak at. This forces you to research in order to find proper clues for a tossup or bonus format.

All in all, people can get good at the game in lots of different ways, and carding is just one of them. But if you're going to card, you have to be mindful of efficiency and time, otherwise you'll burn out, believe me. It's not the end-all be-all to getting good at quizbowl, but it's a good method in my opinion as long as it's done properly.
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Re: Flashcarding

Post by Invisible Rail »

Western Leader wrote:
Charlemagne wrote: I've never been a huge fan of flashcarding, myself. I usually find just writing things down and repeating them (writing questions helps with this too) to be the best method of learning new information.
Isn't that what flashcarding is?
Sorry, this was poorly phrased... A repetition of writing something down, not a repetition of reading is what helps me remember things. Yeah, I write things down several times when I try to know things really well. It can be tedious, but I've found it to be by far the most effective study method for me.

I don't use Quizlet, but after about two seconds of consideration it certainly seems like it would fit that strategy... I'll report back if/when I try it.
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Re: Flashcarding

Post by Excelsior (smack) »

If you are going to flashcard, you should use a spaced repetition system. This means Anki or Mnemosyne. I have not used Mnemosyne (though I know that at least one illustrious quizbowler does), but I have used Anki, and can heartily recommend it. The program itself has a somewhat steep learning curve (I hear Mnemosyne is more newbie-friendly), and you will not see results immediately. However, if you start flashcarding now, you will certainly see improved retention by this time next year (and probably sooner).

I strongly advise against the use of Quizlet, which is not a spaced repetition system. I used it for about three years (for non-quizbowl things) before switching to Anki, and have been using Anki for about three years now. With Anki, I retain _far_ more information relative to the amount of time I spend studying. Quizlet's strengths lie mostly in its social features (e.g. create a deck for your Spanish class and share it with all your classmates) and in its gimmicks (you can play "Space Race" with your flashcards!). Neither of these are probably relevant for quizbowl flashcards.

If you're interested in learning more about spaced repetition, I recommend this (enormous) article: http://www.gwern.net/Spaced%20repetition
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Re: Flashcarding

Post by ashwin99 »

Don't use Quizlet. Although it's easy to use, once you have thousands of flashcards, it's just impractical and time-consuming to go through all of the cards. Instead, use a spaced repetition program, which will give you only a few cards per day, making it much easier to learn clues.

I would recommend Anki, as it also has a convenient Android app, which you can sync to the desktop version (in contrast to Mnemosyne). I also use the setting that automatically advances cards after 1 or 2 seconds (only on the mobile app). I find that this helps with quick recall of clues, which really helps when answering tossups.

To start with flashcards, I would start with a list (e.g., list of famous philosophers), and make flash cards through clues that you can find in Quinterest. However, if you don't know what something is, read a bit about it online (like Wikipedia) – this will give you deeper knowledge, as opposed to blindly associating terms with words. Once you have a set of flashcards, it is important that you at least have an idea what each one is; this strategy will help you get harder bonus parts and not make stupid negs.

However, one disadvantage of flashcards is that you learn to quickly associate text visually, rather than auditory (as tossups are spoken). If only there were a tool that spoke tossups to you...
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Re: Flashcarding

Post by Excelsior (smack) »

ashwin99 wrote:However, one disadvantage of flashcards is that you learn to quickly associate text visually, rather than auditory (as tossups are spoken). If only there were a tool that spoke tossups to you...
There is a well-rated text-to-speech addon for Anki, though I haven't tried it.

In using Anki to learn foreign vocabulary, I feel like reading (well, mumbling) the flashcards out loud as I work through them has improved my ability to comprehend rapid speech. I imagine this could be somewhat useful for developing quick responses to spoken quizbowl clues as well.
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Re: Flashcarding

Post by FloppyBird »

While I can't say I've tried any spaced repetition program like Anki or Mnemosyne, I have used quizlet quite frequently in the past. While I learned whatever I was flashcarding very thoroughly, all the clues began to blur together within a month or two. Especially if the material you're flashcarding is highly interrelated, you will start to confuse similar topics/clues unless you keep up with your flashcards very regularly (and for a long period of time). Just be aware that your time commitment could include review sessions every few weeks/months after you initially learn the material.
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Re: Flashcarding

Post by Chef Curry »

FloppyBird wrote:While I can't say I've tried any spaced repetition program like Anki or Mnemosyne, I have used quizlet quite frequently in the past. While I learned whatever I was flashcarding very thoroughly, all the clues began to blur together within a month or two. Especially if the material you're flashcarding is highly interrelated, you will start to confuse similar topics/clues unless you keep up with your flashcards very regularly (and for a long period of time). Just be aware that your time commitment could include review sessions every few weeks/months after you initially learn the material.

The confusion is what was happening so I think I will start using Anki. I have tried using Mnemosyne, but it doesn't work out too well.
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Re: Flashcarding

Post by Santa Claus »

I have long considered flash carding as an option, but never really gotten around to trying it. My main qualm has always been that it seems difficult to keep track of all the different ways that information interacts with itself.

There are a lot of ways that a given piece of information can be used. If you have a book, say, "Kokoro". "Kokoro" can be an answer line; it can be a clue for its author; it could be a clue for like, the Meiji period. There are options. For science, there are even more options, at least in general.

But if you flashcard something, it seems difficult to accurately portray all of the different options as flashcards unless there are like, six cards for each clue. Perhaps this is just a problem for more difficult questions where clues start being used for multiple purposes.

I have personally found writing notes to be an effective way to avoid that. It's a great method for studying, both for learning deep clues and remembering easier ones.
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Re: Flashcarding

Post by heterodyne »

Santa Claus wrote: But if you flashcard something, it seems difficult to accurately portray all of the different options as flashcards unless there are like, six cards for each clue. Perhaps this is just a problem for more difficult questions where clues start being used for multiple purposes.
1) Making a ton of flashcards for one answerline/clue is totally a thing.
2) I think with some thinking, if you know general things about Kokoro for instance, you should probably be able to match it up with the pronoun whether the question is on Japan, Meiji, Soseki, or the book itself.
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Re: Flashcarding

Post by Lawrence Simon »

I personally used a great deal of flashcards as a sophomore and a little bit as a junior for basic list recognition on works of lit, art, and music and their associated writers, artists, and composers. While this is very good for name recognition and get buzzes when it name-drops a work, as questions sometimes do, then it works to your advantage. But it doesn't do much to help one get deeper knowledge about that work that could be gained by reading it, looking at the painting, or listening to the piece, which the majority of questions will use before they name-drop anything. So in conclusion: good for general, list-based knowledge, meh/terrible for deep, knowledge buzzes.
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Re: Flashcarding

Post by Excelsior (smack) »

Santa Claus wrote:My main qualm has always been that it seems difficult to keep track of all the different ways that information interacts with itself.
Anki has a feature called "cloze deletion" that solves precisely this problem. Consider the following tossup:
2. In the Prologue of Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffmann, Nicklausse sings an excerpt from this earlier opera, which the opera house next door is performing. That same excerpt from this opera is the basis for the twenty-second of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations. In its aria "Il mio tesoro," Don Ottavio swears vengeance for the murder of Donna Anna’s father. At the end of this opera, a statue of the Commendatore comes to life and drags the title character to hell. In its "Catalogue Aria," Leporello recounts the numerous romantic conquests of his master, this opera’s title character. For 10 points, name this Mozart opera about a legendary seducer.
ANSWER: Don Giovanni <KK>
You could convert the latter few clues into a single cloze "note" that (schematically) looks like this:

{Don Ottavio} murders {Donna Anna's} father and a statue of {the Commendatore} comes to life in {Don Giovanni} by {Mozart}, in which {Leporello} sings the "{Catalogue} Aria".

Anki would then generate a number of cloze-deleted cards that would look like this:

[...] murders Donna Anna's father and a statue of the Commendatore comes to life in Don Giovanni by Mozart, in which Leporello sings the "Catalogue Aria".
Don Ottavio murders [...]'s father and a statue of the Commendatore comes to life in Don Giovanni by Mozart, in which Leporello sings the "Catalogue Aria".
Don Ottavio murders Donna Anna's father and a statue of [...] comes to life in Don Giovanni by Mozart, in which Leporello sings the "Catalogue Aria".
Don Ottavio murders Donna Anna's father and a statue of the Commendatore comes to life in [...] by Mozart, in which Leporello sings the "Catalogue Aria".
Don Ottavio murders Donna Anna's father and a statue of the Commendatore comes to life in Don Giovanni by [...], in which Leporello sings the "Catalogue Aria".
Don Ottavio murders Donna Anna's father and a statue of the Commendatore comes to life in Don Giovanni by Mozart, in which [...] sings the "Catalogue Aria".
Don Ottavio murders Donna Anna's father and a statue of the Commendatore comes to life in Don Giovanni by Mozart, in which Leporello sings the "[...] Aria".

There's a limit to how much you can stuff into a single cloze before it gets kind of silly, but 4-5 discrete pieces of information are certainly practical. One effective way to approach this is to create a single cloze deletion for each clue (or set of closely-related clues) for a given answerline.

Proper studying of clozes will, in general, give you just as good recall as studying flashcards with just two discrete pieces of information (i.e. front and back) on them, but your recall will be slower. I suspect this would make clozes more useful for bonuses than for tossups.
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Re: Flashcarding

Post by Aaron's Rod »

Western Leader wrote:
Santa Claus wrote: But if you flashcard something, it seems difficult to accurately portray all of the different options as flashcards unless there are like, six cards for each clue. Perhaps this is just a problem for more difficult questions where clues start being used for multiple purposes.
1) Making a ton of flashcards for one answerline/clue is totally a thing.
2) I think with some thinking, if you know general things about Kokoro for instance, you should probably be able to match it up with the pronoun whether the question is on Japan, Meiji, Soseki, or the book itself.
For Mnemosyne, you can also see your tags when looking at the "question" side of a card. So if you have a one-word "question," you should be able to see whether or not you've tagged it as "History" or "World Literature," etc. I personally tag things into categories as subcategories, so for example, the card on Terra Nostra that was the first thing that popped up when I opened Mnemosyne is tagged as "Literature" and "Mexican Literature" (useful for telling work with similar titles as well, such as separating your Ivanov from your Ivanhoe).

Also, anybody who's just starting to flashcard should really read what Max Schindler has written on the subject. Another thing that could solve your problem is his suggestion of making the front of your cards sentences instead of just a single word. That's also really helpful. So for a lit card, like I mentioned above, I'll have "Who wrote [work]?" on the front, and on the back have both the author and a plot summary. I always make these "front-to-back and back-to-front" so I can pull both the author based on the title clue and the work name based on the plot description.
Excelsior (smack) wrote:
Santa Claus wrote:My main qualm has always been that it seems difficult to keep track of all the different ways that information interacts with itself.
Anki has a feature called "cloze deletion" that solves precisely this problem.
Mnemosyne has this too, as a plugin.
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