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Spacing and interleaving effects require distinct theoretical bases: a systematic review testing the cognitive load and discriminative-contrast hypotheses

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journal contribution
posted on 30.03.2021, 09:56 by Ouhao ChenOuhao Chen, Fred Paas, John Sweller
Spaced and interleaved practices have been identified as effective learning strategies which sometimes are conflated as a single strategy and at other times treated as distinct. Learning sessions in which studying information or practicing problems are spaced in time with rest-from-deliberate-learning periods between sessions generally result in better learning outcomes than massed practice without rest-from-deliberate-learning periods. Interleaved practice also consists of spaced sessions, but by interleaving topics rather than having rest-from-deliberate-learning periods. Interleaving is usually contrasted with blocking in which each learning topic is taught in a single block that provides an example of massed practice. The general finding that interleaved practice is more effective for learning than blocked practice is sometimes attributed to spacing. In the current paper, the presence of rest-from-deliberate-learning periods is used to distinguish between spaced and interleaved practice. We suggest that spaced practice is a cognitive load effect that can be explained by working memory resource depletion during cognitive effort with recovery during rest-from-deliberate-learning, while interleaved practice can be explained by the discriminative-contrast hypothesis positing that interleaving assists learners to discriminate between topic areas. A systematic review of the literature provides evidence for this suggestion.

History

School

  • Science

Department

  • Mathematics Education Centre

Published in

Educational Psychology Review

Volume

33

Pages

1499-1522

Publisher

Springer

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Rights holder

© The Authors

Publisher statement

This is an Open Access Article. It is published by Springer under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Licence (CC BY 4.0). Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Acceptance date

04/03/2021

Publication date

2021-03-26

Copyright date

2021

ISSN

1040-726X

eISSN

1573-336X

Language

en

Depositor

Dr Ouhao Chen. Deposit date: 26 March 2021