I'm wondering how well the general population can solve a problem after being taught.

What are the main studies around this?

The basic experiment would be to take a math problem that people usually get wrong, probably something with statistics and probability like the Montee Hall problem, then measure their answers before and after instruction about how to think about the problem, like a 60 min course in probability.

  • They have taught squirrels... – Solar Mike Aug 16 '18 at 20:07
  • The "general population" stipulation may be tough to meet here, since current students are the most relevant (and available) study subjects for studies about learning. Beyond literacy and numeracy tests of adults, perhaps some industry-sponsored research ("how do we get potential consumers to get past the confusion of using X?") might be a fruitful place to look. – cactus_pardner Aug 16 '18 at 20:17
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    @cactus_pardner, and, oppositely, I'd wager that some industry-sponsored "research" involves figuring out how to deceive potential consumers ... :) – paul garrett Aug 16 '18 at 20:19
  • I don't get why this is a downvoted question. If you don't like "general population" just replace it with "sample of college students" it doesn't matter. I'm wondering how well people can learn something after a short instruction. – Some Guy Aug 16 '18 at 20:50
  • @SomeGuy I'm sorry, but the question is not on topic here. We collect answers to questions about how science works as an institution and professional/cultural environment ("academia"), not about the content of research, be it pedagogy, cognitive science or any other discipline. New users sometimes misunderstand this. – henning -- reinstate Monica Aug 16 '18 at 20:56

I think your conception of "being taught" is naive. A sixty minute "course" in anything teaches very little. It tweaks the short term memory and not much else. To really create learning you need to do something to move the skill/information/whatever to long term memory at least. Humans learn by physically changing the brain - redirecting synapses between neurons. But it isn't an instantaneous process. It takes some work and some active learning - practice. This is the purpose of exercises in coursework and the purpose of taking notes in class. Activity and repetition.

If I tell you (once) that the answer to a particular problem is forty-two and then ask you five minutes later, you will likely remember it. Maybe not if I tell you while you are distracted or distract you sufficiently in the interim. But if I ask you a year later you won't know the answer unless you have done something with it in the interim.

This is discussed in the book The Art of Changing the Brain by James E Zull. It is pretty fundamental to learning theory in general.

  • I don't care if they actually retain what they learned. For the purposes of this question, it just concerns whether polling before and after will substantially change their views on a question with an objective answer, like a math problem. – Some Guy Aug 16 '18 at 20:52

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