Don’t Cram! Spaced practice

Basic idea:

Cramming is usually associated with the couple of days before exams, but as teachers we often do something similar in our everyday practice; hammering one idea or topic non-stop for a week or so, before then moving on to something totally different. Spacing out learning may mean that more forgetting occurs in the short term… but as teachers we are more interested in forming long term memories, and for this the evidence is clear that sessions spread out in time are more effective than those close together.

forgetting_curve
image from https://www.learnthat.org

Suggestions for practice:

The link below contains some great ideas for incorporating spacing into classroom practice.It could be as simple as:

  • Waiting for a few weeks (or months) before giving a test on material covered in class
  • Breaking modules up into smaller chunks which are taught at different points in the year

Team this idea also with ‘retrieval practice’, ‘the testing effect’ and ‘interleaved practice’

Further reading:

http://www.learningscientists.org/blog/2016/4/12-1

http://www.learningscientists.org/blog/2016/5/10-1

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Don’t Cram! Spaced practice

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