Incorporate 'desirable difficulties' into your course.

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Desirable difficulties refer to presenting students with challenging, abstract versions of basic, key points from class. As a result students are forced to fully grasp the key concepts presented in order to overcome the more abstract version with desirable difficulties. An example of this would be presenting students with more difficult and abstract versions of simpler example problems presented during class.

Incorporating desirable difficulties into the classroom can be done by simply creating abstract versions of problem sets and concepts introduced during lecture.


Mannes, S.M., and Kintsch, W. (1987). Knowledge organization and text organization. Cognition and Instruction, 4, 91-115.

McEachern, William A. "THE TEACHING ECONOMIST." The Teaching Economist. Cengage Learning, 2008. Web. 10 June 2011. <>. Click here to access the article.