Spacing vs. Interleaving effects: Same or Different – Evidence from Maths Classroom

Project Description

Reference number: MEC/OC-Un1/2020
Start date of studentship: April 2021
Closing date of advert: 1st January 2021

Spaced and interleaved practice 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 periods between sessions generally result in better learning outcomes than massed practice without rest. Interleaved practice also spaces sessions by interleaving topics rather than having rest periods. Interleaving is contrasted with blocking in which each topic is addressed using massed practice followed by the other topic. Learning sessions presented in an interleaved fashion are generally more effective for learning than sessions in which related concepts are presented in a blocked fashion, with that advantage sometimes being attributed to spacing.

In this project, a series of experiments will be designed to address the two questions: 1. Spaced practice involves mental resting, which offers the opportunity to restore depleted working memory resources caused by mental effort during learning. Learners do not acquire skills in discriminating between specific concepts or topics of a domain. The function of mental resting to working memory resource is similar to the resting to muscles after heavy physical exercises; 2. Interleaved practice does not involve mental resting but rather, assists learners to discriminate between similar concepts or topics of a domain.

Clarifying the boundaries between spacing and interleaving effects could provide teachers a clear picture about how to use the two strategies in their own classrooms, also could understand the actual cognitive mechanism under each learning strategy.

Funding Information

This project is to be self-funded.

Eligibility Requirements

Applicants should have, or expect to achieve, at least a 2:1 honours degree (or equivalent international qualification) in educational or cognitive psychology.

A relevant master’s degree and/or experience in one or more of the following will be an advantage: cognitive or educational psychology.

Application Process

To apply, please visit the following: Apply Now