The benefit to memory of spacing presentations of material is well established but has rarely been applied in education. This study involved three experiments that examined the spacing effect and its application to education. Experiment 1 demonstrated that spacing repeated presentations of items is equally beneficial to memory for a wide range of ages, contrary to some theories. Experiment 2 introduced ‘clustered’ presentations as a more relevant control than massed, reflecting the fact that massed presentation of material is uncommon in education. The scheduling of clustered presentations was intermediate between massed and distributed, yet recall was no different than for massed. Experiment 3 involved a classroom-based study and demonstrated the benefit of distributed over clustered teaching of reading through varying the frequency with which lessons are taught during the day. The results demonstrated that the effectiveness of teaching may be improved by increasing the degree to which lessons are distributed.

Seabrook, R., Brown, G.D.A., & Solity, J.E. (2005) Distributed and Massed Practice: From laboratory to classroom. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 19, 107-122

Research into Core Instructional Principles Study 4