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Author Topic: Scientific Evidence on Morse Learning  (Read 12130 times)
KB1WSY
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« Reply #15 on: January 08, 2014, 08:55:46 AM »

Let me suggest something.  If you're having a problem with a particular character, try confining your learning of that particular character with just a few other characters.  Then confine your practice of listening to the troublesome character with ones that are similar in element formation.  

At the moment I'm doing a variant of that. So for instance, that problem I'm having with "G." I'm using drills that have all the characters learned so far, but with an artificially high number of "G's." In my software, that's called "favor recently learned character."

This "narrowing your focus" can be done again and again but just not for very long.

I know what you mean!

If your training material doesn't permit this....

The software I'm using allows you to create "custom sets" of random drills containing any character set you want to focus on.

Thanks again!
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K8AXW
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« Reply #16 on: January 08, 2014, 09:20:25 AM »

WSY:  VERY GOOD!  Sounds like you're doing everything right and are simply having ordinary or expected problems. 

Martin, let me emphasize one thing.  That is, it will be worth it!  CW opens a whole new world of ham radio.  To set at your receiver and listen to what amounts to a stream of noise come from the speaker and in your head you hear letters and eventually words, is a wonderful feeling.  Something like taking a foreign vacation and finding yourself being able to communicate with the natives! 

I've known so many who have simply given up because they "can't learn dit-dah."  I suppose there are those who simply can't but they are few in number.  Most of those simply can't discipline themselves

One more thing while I'm on my soap box Martin..... and I doubt if it pertains to you.  That is those who "can't learn the code because of a hearing impairment."  That line can be dried, packaged and sold at any fertilizer outlet in the country!

CW can be heard by anyone except those who are totally deaf.  "They can't hear CW" is totally BS!

Al - K8AXW
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WB2WIK
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« Reply #17 on: January 08, 2014, 09:41:04 AM »

I've known completely deaf hams who worked CW and could copy code by placing their fingertips on a speaker cone and feeling the characters.  I don't know how fast they could go, but they used the code.

Not much incentive for that extreme these days, with digital modes, computers and monitors, and other modern stuff.

I'm quite active on CW and use it pretty much every day and note that "most" active hams using code are older, many in their 50s, 60s, 70s, and some in their 80s and 90s.  I'd wager almost all of them (with the possible exception of those in their younger 50s) learned on their own with no special methods and no actual record of their method or progress.



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K3STX
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« Reply #18 on: January 08, 2014, 09:55:32 AM »

I'd wager almost all of them (with the possible exception of those in their younger 50s) learned on their own with no special methods and no actual record of their method or progress.

I'm 50, and I learned it on my own with no special methods and no actual record of my method or progress.  Smiley

paul
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KB4QAA
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« Reply #19 on: January 08, 2014, 10:08:09 AM »

My great aunt, who is approaching 90, learned morse code as a young lady during WWII while working in a train depot.  Hearing it hammered out all day long.  She could "head copy' all the telegrams and rail traffic orders.

-Nearly all classical musicians have have had years of formal tutoring, and often continue taking lessons and masters' classes.

-Many popular musicians and performers learn to play by ear, and may never learn to read music notation.  

Which is "correct"?   Why do you think learning morse is any different?

Lord knows I've had some atrociously designed courses in the Navy over 26 years.  The military tries to use scientific methods. In the end, they use reasonably effective methods that work for widely differing learning styles and levels of intelligence.

Methods which can be taught by non-professionals who know nothing about educational theory, and who are frequently shuffled in and out of instructor duty.  You can accomplish much training when you have a young, captive audience, motivated by a certain level of fear and intimidation!  Wink

Two ratings in the Navy were historically taught morse:  Radiomen and Signalmen.  Radiomen were among the brightest and required high aptitude scores for entry.  Skivvie Wavers (God Bless 'Em) had nearly the lowest aptitude scores for entry and yet learned morse, semaphore and signal flags, at significant speeds.  A key method for SM's was repetition, repetition, repetition.

« Last Edit: January 08, 2014, 10:18:31 AM by KB4QAA » Logged
KB1WSY
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« Reply #20 on: January 08, 2014, 10:31:23 AM »

There's a great book titled "Outliers: The Story of Success" by Malcolm Gladwell, in which he examines the factors that underlie the success of very successful people.

The key insight from the book is a very mundane answer: practice, and repetition. The key number he comes up with is: 10,000 hours, yup, that's right, ten thousand. Bill Gates, the Beatles, classical music virtuosi: 10,000 hours of practice.

I bet you WIK and AXW might have racked up that many hours of CW in their lives, huh?
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N4OI
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« Reply #21 on: January 08, 2014, 07:31:22 PM »

CW is an art form…  What scientific process was used to teach Claude Monet how to paint fuzzy, impressionistic pictures?  (equivalent to a nice, buggy fist)   Grin

73
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KB1WSY
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« Reply #22 on: January 09, 2014, 03:28:21 AM »

CW is an art form…  What scientific process was used to teach Claude Monet how to paint fuzzy, impressionistic pictures?  (equivalent to a nice, buggy fist)   Grin

73

I'm glad you made that analogy.

As a teenager Monet went to a "secondary school of the arts" in Le Havre. He later moved to Paris and studied with numerous teachers and other artists. He joined the military and served in Algeria, then came back to Paris to (again) attend art school. He met several artists who were later to become famous including Renoir and Sisley. At this point he became disillusioned with the art taught in art schools and forged his own style. By that time he must have already racked up many thousands of hours of conventional "art experience."

The point I'm trying to make? By the time he started painting those fuzzy pictures he'd already put in massive amounts of time learning his trade in a relatively "scientific" manner using the then-accepted techniques and styles. Most artists, whatever their styles, achieve what they achieve not only through talent but also via a lot of hard work and relatively conventional "learning."

Let me give you another example. In "real life" I'm a graphic designer, whose specialty happens to be typesetting musical scores. What I do is an intimate mixture of art and science; actually, mainly science but a lot of musical and graphic/esthetic judgement is involved too.

I know what people mean when they say that CW is an "art" but that doesn't mean it can't be taught scientifically or analyzed scientifically and it sure doesn't mean we can't do an independent assessment of which learning techniques work best. Except I haven't seen one!

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
« Last Edit: January 09, 2014, 03:33:54 AM by KB1WSY » Logged
N4OI
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« Reply #23 on: January 09, 2014, 04:36:07 AM »

CW is an art form…  What scientific process was used to teach Claude Monet how to paint fuzzy, impressionistic pictures?  (equivalent to a nice, buggy fist)   Grin

73

I'm glad you made that analogy.

As a teenager Monet went to a "secondary school of the arts" in Le Havre. He later moved to Paris and studied with numerous teachers and other artists. He joined the military and served in Algeria, then came back to Paris to (again) attend art school. He met several artists who were later to become famous including Renoir and Sisley. At this point he became disillusioned with the art taught in art schools and forged his own style. By that time he must have already racked up many thousands of hours of conventional "art experience."

The point I'm trying to make? By the time he started painting those fuzzy pictures he'd already put in massive amounts of time learning his trade in a relatively "scientific" manner using the then-accepted techniques and styles. Most artists, whatever their styles, achieve what they achieve not only through talent but also via a lot of hard work and relatively conventional "learning."

Let me give you another example. In "real life" I'm a graphic designer, whose specialty happens to be typesetting musical scores. What I do is an intimate mixture of art and science; actually, mainly science but a lot of musical and graphic/esthetic judgement is involved too.

I know what people mean when they say that CW is an "art" but that doesn't mean it can't be taught scientifically or analyzed scientifically and it sure doesn't mean we can't do an independent assessment of which learning techniques work best. Except I haven't seen one!

73 de Martin, KB1WSY

Yep -- every analogy breaks down at some point…  Perhaps a more closely related example is learning a foreign language…   

Lots of approaches out there from junior high school classes to private packages such as Rosetta Stone or Berlitz…  In retrospect, it would have been better to learn CW like a language by hearing complete words instead of individual letters.  Try conversing by listening to someone just say letters instead of words at 35 wpm...  There is significant mental overhead required even before we bring morse into the mix!

It took several years for my brain to begin building a basic vocabulary of morse words that are typically used in a QSO… (a continuing process)   All it takes is to try copying random text from the ARRL practice files to revert to having to assemble letters in my mind before making words…

Maybe sleep learning is the answer…. Grin

73


   
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KB1WSY
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« Reply #24 on: January 09, 2014, 04:47:15 AM »

Maybe sleep learning is the answer…. Grin

Errr ... yes, that is yet another of the techniques that has been suggested at one time or another to learn CW! Here is a two-paragraph excerpt from "The Art and Skill of Radiotelegraphy":

"Sleep Learning?

"A number of operators in the past who desperately wanted to increase their receiving skills deliberately tried sleeping beside their receivers or playback recording equipment (or their line telegraph sounders in the case of landline operators) with fast code signals coming through for several hours or all night. They claimed that within a surprisingly short time they had great increases in receiving speed. This procedure has been challenged, but apparently works for some people.

"One ham, who says he can copy at 70wpm and still wants to increase above that, has for years been listening this way every night. Maybe it works for some people, but I wonder if it is actually effective, and also whether they got any restful sleep that way. It is interesting that in the early 1920s a group of doctors were being trained to use Morse code. Their teachers tried sleep-learning with them, and found that if the word 'doctor' was sent while they were asleep during the night, it would nearly always wake them up immediately, showing that there was some kind of unconscious receptivity and response."

To me, this is is yet another example of the problem with "Morse code learning." Because there's not independent assessment of the various methods, pretty much "anything goes" including the above "sleep learning" technique. Who knows whether it works? Sounds awfully unlikely to me, but how can we write it off? At least the above excerpt does reference one relatively scientific experiment (with the doctors)!

I haven't started dreaming in CW yet ... and, using the "sleep learning" technique would definitely earn a divorce petition from XYL....

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
« Last Edit: January 09, 2014, 04:53:47 AM by KB1WSY » Logged
PA0KDW
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« Reply #25 on: January 09, 2014, 06:41:52 AM »

My experience is, that it doesn't proceed your ability to copy code when the code is so fast that you can't copy a single word.

However when you can copy a quart to half of the sent text the progress is there. Generally I hear from the QRQ guys that the way to increase their speed was, to listen to fast code (see above) and when going back to a lower speed, it is easy to copy; easier then it was before, so progress is measurable.

This is a method you can't use ad infinitum, most people have a certain speed ceiling they can't break, the so named brick wall, also not with this technique. You can find more or less proof at speed competitions, such as rufzxp.net. The top guys overthere operate at their personal ceilings, how desperately they try to overtake each other.

Another point: the grouping of characters.

When you start over with the remaining characters, there is no reason not to do them with your initial speed of one character per day.

You mentioned Koch experience.

My answer: Look at the limits. Limit cases you can learn a lot from. When you want to learn 40 characters and you have mastered 38 with 90% reliability. You add number 39. However the probability of occurance is only 2.5% in every exercise. UNLESS you give more weight to the probability of occurance of the new character. However when you do, you actually make a group of one new character and a group with low probability of the rest of the learned characters.

When I wanted to learn the special characters of a language, such as French, in order to conversate with my french fried friends, I do NOT do that by mixing them in exercises with other characters. I just do code practice till I copy an increasing  mix of those special characters  nearly 100% . Believe it or not (like Koch) but in the meantime my proficiency with international code did NOT going lower. So after a while I started mixim them and right now the international set is just expanded with them.

So when you start over with a second group of 20 characters, there is hardly a reason why you should not do it with the pace of one a day. Even Koch admits. But Koch says you forgot your first group. How about repeating the first group with 20% exercise time in order to prevent that phenomenon?



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N2EY
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« Reply #26 on: January 09, 2014, 07:24:15 AM »

A couple of points:

1) In the Koch method, it is possible to construct words out of a limited number of characters. This is demonstrated in "Learning the Radiotelegraph Code". For example, with just ETAONIS, you can construct words like ATE, SEAT, NOTE, ISNT, TONE, TEEN, TON, etc. In fact whole sentences such as A TAN TEEN EATS TEN TONS. As the character set increases, so do the possible words. This permits the development of head-copy and plain-text skills.

2) It is normal and common to encounter "plateaus" in the "learning curve". They do NOT mean there is no learning going on!

3) It is very important to develop the skill of "not getting hung up" when a letter is missed. It is a lot like what happens during a live stage performance and an actor drops a line or otherwise messes up - the important thing is to keep going. For some folks this is difficult because they want to "get it right the first time" - but life can't always work that way.

4) Remember always that learning Morse Code is a set of skills, not one skill!

5) References to "how the military did it" must be taken with a grain of salt, if not the whole shaker. Here's why:

In military code training, the trainees worked at learning code for hours per day. They'd have put in more hours per week than a typical ham trying to learn code would do in a month - or two! More important, learning code was a military trainees job. It was what they were being paid to do, expected to do, and it was in a formal classroom setting with instructors, structure, etc. Not a hobby, pastime, or something that had to be fit in between other responsibilities. (This is true of practically all military training.)

6) Most of us who have decent code skills took years to acquire them. Often we had relatively few distractions, too.

Just keep plugging away.

73 de Jim, N2EY

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KB1WSY
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« Reply #27 on: January 09, 2014, 07:57:03 AM »

A couple of points:

(Annoying pedantry alert): That's six, not two.

3) It is very important to develop the skill of "not getting hung up" when a letter is missed. It is a lot like what happens during a live stage performance and an actor drops a line or otherwise messes up - the important thing is to keep going. For some folks this is difficult because they want to "get it right the first time" - but life can't always work that way.

I have largely learned that lesson except in those cases where my annoying brain sends out an alert: "You know that element, and you know that you know it, so figure it out and write it down! Now!" By which time I've missed at least half a dozen characters in a row. "G" has been doing this to me for a couple of weeks, but I've nearly vanquished it now. Today may be "G Liberation Day."

6) Most of us who have decent code skills took years to acquire them. Often we had relatively few distractions, too.

Well, a lot of OTs state the opposite (admittedly it depends what you mean by "decent code skills"). Either it's selective memory, or (more likely I think) they had fewer other things to deal with and learned as kids, teenagers or young adults. If they learned as hams, they learned during that part of their life where the hobby could be a huge part of their life without it "mattering" in a detrimental way. If they learned in the military, they progressed rapidly for the reasons that you spell out: they were doing it all the time, they were being paid for it, and during some periods, their life and that of the country depended on it.

Just keep plugging away.

Aye aye, OM.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
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WB3CQM
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« Reply #28 on: January 09, 2014, 09:57:20 AM »

A couple of points:

(Annoying pedantry alert): That's six, not two.



Well, a lot of OTs state the opposite (admittedly it depends what you mean by "decent code skills"). Either it's selective memory, or (more likely I think) they had fewer other things to deal with and learned as kids, teenagers or young adults. If they learned as hams, they learned during that part of their life where the hobby could be a huge part of their life without it "mattering" in a detrimental way. If they learned in the military, they progressed rapidly for the reasons that you spell out: they were doing it all the time, they were being paid for it, and during some periods, their life and that of the country depended on it.

Just keep plugging away.

Aye aye, OM.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY


No one learned Morse Code in my day as a ham . They learned Morse Code to become a ham.
1976 I had to copy 1 perfect minute out of 5 min at 13 wpm to become a General . Then had to get up and send Morse code on a Straight key in front of a FCC examiner.

When I took the Extra I had to pass 50 questions of Advance license then Take 40 question test . But of course I had to pass 20 wpm receive of Morse Code test . In Front of FCC examiner at Philadelphia after I drove 2 1/2 hours to get there. Big difference from today's ham.

I think the hams before 1976 had it even more difficult testing and code exams.

I am still learning and practice my Morse code . Wonder when I will get it 100% if ever ?

73 JIM
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KB1WSY
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« Reply #29 on: January 09, 2014, 11:31:29 AM »

When I took the Extra I had to pass 50 questions of Advance license then Take 40 question test . But of course I had to pass 20 wpm receive of Morse Code test . In Front of FCC examiner at Philadelphia after I drove 2 1/2 hours to get there. Big difference from today's ham.

Jim, I have a lot of respect for the Old School given that you all had to take the code test.

I'm learning Morse just for fun, but serious fun. Judging from the QSOs I hear on the bands today, those who can handle 20wpm+ have a lot more choices than those going slower, so that's my ultimate aim -- not straight away, of course.

Plus, I'm building my own equipment from scratch and I'd rather not tackle building an SSB rig! Building CW gear is the way to go, for an electronics amateur like me.

So, in effect, I am going through a similar process to the one you went to but without having to go before the code examiner to get there. I'm not on the air yet, that will come as soon as I've assimilated the Morse character set and built my rig.

73 de Martin, KB1WSY
« Last Edit: January 09, 2014, 11:36:33 AM by KB1WSY » Logged
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