Weekly Digest #70: Teachers’ Implementation of Spaced Practice

Weekly Digest #70: Teachers’ Implementation of Spaced Practice

As regular readers of our website know, spaced practice is one of the go-to learning strategies from cognitive psychology – dating back to Hermann Ebbinghaus in 1885. Spaced practice is simply the distribution of a set study time across several sessions instead of cramming it all into a single study session. Spacing out learning has been shown to be beneficial for long-term retention of knowledge. Thus, spaced practice increases the likelihood that students will remember stuff teachers taught them in the previous semesters and, consequently, decreases the likelihood of teachers to spend precious classroom time reteaching old stuff. Teachers can implement spaced practice in their teaching routine relatively easily if they have the time to find out what to pay attention to and figure out an implementation strategy that fits their subject and needs. This can be quite overwhelming, but there are teachers out there who have done a terrific job coming up with working implementations of spaced practice – and luckily – have blogged about it. This week’s digest provides some great examples of implementations of spaced practice by teachers. Kudos from us!


1) Is this the best we can do? Part 7: The spacing effect by Hin-Tai, @HinTai_Ting

Hin-Tai describes in great detail how to implement spaced practice into the math curriculum. In addition, he goes one step further and actually combines two learning strategies from cognitive psychology: spaced practice and interleaving. Everyone interested in concrete tips on how to introduce spaced practice in their classes should read this.


2) Spiral, Massed, and Spaced Math Practice by by Nancy from TeamTom Education, @TeamTomWaters

The author of this blog post makes a strong case for implementing spaced practice in math classes and describes easy-to-use and concrete activities that other teachers can adopt. Interestingly, the author describes three activities that are focused on massed practice – which can be beneficial when introducing a brand new topic and students have no prior knowledge.


3) Forget Me Not: New GCSE Planning by Andy Lewis, @AndyLewis_RE

In case you are looking for a concrete spaced practice schedule that you can apply to any subject, look no further. Andy covered it in his brilliant post. Plus, he provides a neat before and after implementing spaced practice analysis of the curriculum schedule.


4) Optimal Time For Spacing Gaps (?) by Damian Benney, @Benneypenyrheol

Damian Benney gives an in-depth analysis of the intriguing finding that the optimal spacing between two learning sessions depends on the time between the last study session and the final test when knowledge is assessed. Building on this finding he comes up with practical implications for the scheduling of review sessions. Niki Kaiser (@chemDrK) followed up on Damian’s post and wrote a terrific piece on how she uses the research findings of optimally spacings in her Chemistry class.


5) Daily structure by Anna Vance, @TypeAMathLand

If you need more ideas how to structure and schedule your teaching activities to reflect spaced practice, check out this awesome color-coded table by Anna Vance. She explains what each activity means and fully distributes practice sessions in her teaching. Wonderful.

Every Sunday, we pick a theme and provide a curated list of links. If you have a theme suggestion, please don’t hesitate to contact us! Occasionally we publish a guest digest, and If you'd like to propose a guest digest click here. Our 5 most recent digests can be found here:

Weekly Digest #65: The Case Against Inquiry-Based Learning

Weekly Digest #66: What Makes a MOOC

Weekly Digest #67: Dual Coding in the Classroom

Weekly Digest #68: Desirable Difficulties

Weekly Digest #69: Behaviorism in the Classroom