The Cognitive Science of Studying: Massed Practice vs. Spaced Practice

Very nice article! I’m going to repost in on our blog.

Instructional Design: Engagement Activities and Strategies

I’ll just come out and say it: students don’t know how to study.

When students are asked how they study the response is often something along these lines:

  • Wait until the night before the test
  • Find my notes and textbook
  • Read/reread notes and textbook
  • Highlight stuff
  • Repeat until I can’t stay awake any longer or distraction gets the best of me

There are several problems with this approach. In an earlier post I covered Rereading vs. Retrieval Practice, and what current research says about these two approaches.

This article compares:

2. Massed Practice vs. Spaced Practicemassed practice purple

Whether it’s studying for an American History test or practicing hitting curve balls, massed practice can be described as a single, long “study session” going over the same information or skill. Most of us know it as cramming. It is usually easy to see improvement from the beginning of a massed practice session…

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