Blog of the Week: 17 December 2021 – Interleaving Really Works

We’ve known for quite a while that certain approaches to study, though seemingly more difficult (they’re not) and also thought of by students as less effective (they’re not) really help learning, retention, and even transfer. These, so-called desirable difficulties (Bjork, 1994), include approaches such as retrieval practice (also called by some no-stakes testing or self-testing), spaced practice, elaboration, and interleaving (also known as variability of practice; Van Merrienboer & Kirschner, 2018).

Variability of Practice
Organizing learning tasks in such a way that they differ from each other on dimensions that also differ in the real world (e.g., the situation or context, the way of presenting the task, the saliency of defining characteristics). Variability has positive effects on inductive learning and transfer.

In a recent preregistered study on interleaving entitled Interleaved practice enhances memory and problem-solving ability in undergraduate physics, Joshua Samani and Steven C. Pan investigated …

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