Do students learn better with material that is perceptually hard to process? While evidence is mixed, recent claims suggest that placing materials in Sans Forgetica, a perceptually difficult-to-process typeface, has positive impacts on student learning. Given the weak evidence for other similar perceptual disfluency effects, we examined the mnemonic effects of Sans Forgetica more closely in comparison to other learning strategies across three preregistered experiments. In Experiment 1, participants studied weakly related cue-target pairs with targets presented in either Sans Forgetica or with missing letters (e.g., cue: G_RL, the generation effect). Cued recall performance showed a robust effect of generation, but no Sans Forgetica memory benefit. In Experiment 2, participants read an educational passage about ground water with select sentences presented in either Sans Forgetica typeface, yellow pre-highlighting, or unmodified. Cued recall for select words was better for pre-highlighted information than an unmodified pure reading condition. Critically, presenting sentences in Sans Forgetica did not elevate cued recall compared to an unmodified pure reading condition or a pre-highlighted condition. In Experiment 3, individuals did not have better discriminability for Sans Forgetica relative to a fluent condition in an old-new recognition test. Our findings suggest that Sans Forgetica really is forgettable.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- desirable difficulties
- learning and memory