Teachers commonly assume the more engaged students are in learning activities, the more they will retain from the lesson. This is not necessarily so. To boost retention, teachers should expose students to key course concepts on at least two occasions – ideally separated by a period of several weeks to several months. This practice is known as “distributed learning” or “spacing”. Its benefits are described in this video.
Our thanks for the Doing What Works video Key Concepts on Spacing Learning Over Time
- In order to improve student learning, take the total time available for teaching or practicing any given content or skill and divide it into two or more episodes.
- How should episodes be spaced? Determine when students will need to demonstrate mastery and then separate the episodes by time intervals equal to about 20% of the total time period.
- For more on this strategy, see the Institute of Education Science’s Practice Guide Organizing Instruction and Study to Improve Study Learning