The Spacing EffectThe spacing effect is a well-established learning principle stating that material a person studies (factual material, in particular) is more fully retained when study sessions are spaced over time rather than being crammed into a brief period.
For guidance on what determines optimal spacing of study sessions, you can turn to research reported by the Optimal Learning Lab of Carnegie Mellon University. Lab researchers have developed an algorithm that estimates optimal spacing by looking at:
- When prior practice occurred
- How many prior practices have occurred
- What the spacing between prior practices was
- Whether prior practice occurred as testing or passive study
- Duration of prior practices
- An individual's history of success or failure with tests
- What type of practice occurs (e.g., phonological, orthographic, English to foreign language, or foreign language to English)
Note: This post is a follow-on to an earlier post on the learning curve concept.