Best Practice

Desirable difficulties: A not so difficult approach

Creating desirable difficulty in the classroom is a key part of lesson planning and delivery, but we must be cautious about clumsy interpretations of what this means. Andrew Jones explains and advises

Although the concept has been around for sometime, over the last couple of years I have heard more and more colleagues referencing “desirable difficulties” in blogs and on #edutwitter.

The idea of desirable difficulties is worth continually pursuing as we plan, devise and teach lessons. However I cannot help but think that it may be initially daunting for busy teachers to explore this concept without having the time to fully unpack what it entails.

Moreover, a haphazard approach to implementing these difficulties could make them redundant or even “undesirable”.

What are ‘desirable difficulties’?

A desirable difficulty is a learning task that is not particularly easy and requires a desirable amount of effort to complete or solve. This effort, it has been found, can improve long-term memory and performance (Bjork, 1994; Bjork & Bjork, 2011).

Register now, read forever

Thank you for visiting SecEd and reading some of our content for professionals in secondary education. Register now for free to get unlimited access to all content.

What's included:

  • Unlimited access to news, best practice articles and podcast

  • New content and e-bulletins delivered straight to your inbox every Monday and Thursday


Already have an account? Sign in here