On the forgetting of college academics and the role of learning engineering in building expertise

February 10, 2017 - 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm

Dr. Brian Subirana 

Dr. Bror Saxberg


In this talk, Brian Subirana will first review research conducted over the last 120 years since Ebbinghaus's seminal work in 1885 on the forgetting curve. This review (joint work in progress with Aikaterini Bagiati and Sanjay Sarma) aims to understand whether, and to what extent, what is learned in the college classroom (if left unused) is likely to be mostly forgotten a “few” years after graduation: in general, does university knowledge and skills retention follows Ebbinghaus 1885 forgetting curve even decades after graduation? In the research reviewed so far there is no solid evidence that “unused” memories are retained.

Bror Saxberg will then review research on expertise and learning, and draw out implications and models that have been empirically tested.  He will then talk about how this work can influence practical learning engineering at scale, with examples from Kaplan. The talk will finish with bold speculations by both authors on implications of the findings presented for the future of University education and leave time to invite views and reactions from the audience.


McGovern Institute for Brain Research
February 10, 2017
4:00 pm to 5:30 pm
MIT Bldg. 46 Room 3002 Singleton Auditorium

43 Vassar St, Cambridge MA 02139