“Desirable difficulties” is a term coined by Dr. Robert Bjork (UCLA) over 20 years ago. It refers to conditions of learning that create challenges for learners — and even seem to slow down the rate of learning — while actually enhancing long-term retention of knowledge and skills. What are some desirable difficulties and how do they improve learning? Watch Dr. Bjork’s video to find out.

For more about desirable difficulties, click here.

Brian Johnson, the creator of Optimal Living 101, makes the case for desirable difficulties in this online micro-class. He presents compelling examples — some of them from Gladwell’s book — about how challenges can sometimes lead to better end results.

Malcolm Gladwell, the best-selling author of The Tipping Point and Outliers, consulted with Dr. Bjork while researching for his book, David and Goliath. In the book, Gladwell provides anecdotal evidence of how obstacles can sometimes lead to advantageous outcomes. Watch this video to find out more.


About the Author

Dr. Robert Bjork (Ph.D., Stanford University) is Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Psychology at UCLA. Among his many accomplishments, Dr. Bjork was a past president of the American Psychological Society (APS), served as Editor for Memory & Cognition and Psychological Review, and is a fellow of the American Academy of Art and Sciences. His research focuses on human learning and memory and on the implications of the science of learning for instruction and training.

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Our Story

In 2015, Cameron Broumand, an entrepreneur and father of three living in Los Angeles, stumbled upon a media article on the science of learning. After reading the piece, he realized that the valuable research findings in cognitive psychology and the learning sciences were almost entirely unknown to the public and, more surprisingly, to teachers. How could this be?! Broumand decided to find out, so he called Dr. Robert Bjork, a distinguished research professor at UCLA and one of the world’s leading experts in human learning and memory. After an insightful conversation with Dr. Bjork about the disconnect between research and practice, Broumand recognized an opportunity to improve our educational system. Shortly thereafter, he—along with Clement Mok, an award-winning designer and digital pioneer—founded the company, Lasting Learning. The goal of the company? To provide information to the public about how the science of learning can help transform and improve the way people teach and learn. Broumand asked learning scientists, Dr. Nick Soderstrom and Saskia Giebl, M.Sc. (both of whom were in Bjork’s lab at the time), to join the team. They happily agreed and, with the help of Carri O’Neill, have been giving talks, workshops, and webinars around the country ever since. The UCLA-Lasting Learning team has had the privilege to talk with thousands of teachers, coaches, parents, students, and athletes about how they can leverage the science of learning to enhance their educational practices. We look forward to talking with many more!