Originally posted on Math.SE, but it was suggested cogsci.SE would be a more suitable venue.
I'm aware of two publications that have trickled onto the radar screens of non-specialists:
- Fortune Favors the Bold by Diemand-Yauman & Oppenheimer
- Designing Effective Multimedia for Physics Education by Derek Muller (TED talk)
The former focuses on the impact of "disfluency" on retention and success when processing written material, and the latter seems to focus on learning in the case where preexisting misconceptions need to be corrected (physics).
I'm interested to hear about similar research results in the learning of abstract concepts, specifically mathematics.
The motivation described in the original question on Math.SE is the fact that many mathematicians seem to hold the (painful, to students) belief that forcing students to struggle (in some sense) is beneficial. I've quoted multiple examples of this attitude from various sources in the original question, you are welcome to have a look.
Does current research support the belief that (in mathematics) difficult learning is better learning? This might be in terms of retention, long-term achievements, motivation, etc'.
I've posted an expanded form of the question on matheducators.SE beta: http://matheducators.stackexchange.com/questions/875/
Still hoping for helpful answers from the cogsci.SE community.