Spacing and Interleaving

Firstly we would like to highlight that we have a staff CPD library which has been kindly put together by Cat in the Sixth Form Library (Dewey numbers 370-373). If you have any books that you would like to add to this then please email the feed and we will gladly come and collect. You are welcome to come and take a look and we hope that we can begin to expand this in order to support you with your CPD requirements.

This week’s feed focuses on long-term and medium-term planning and the benefits of spaced learning or interleaving. Following a recent department meeting, the English department are using this concept to improve their schemes of work and remap the English curriculum.

Spacing and Interleaving: what does it look like?

Research shows unequivocally that mastery and long-term retention are much better if you interleave practice than if you mass it. Interleaving topics helps encourage students to see the similarities and differences between ideas – and gives you the opportunity to point out the similarities and differences.  Even though students may forget some of the information in between presentations, relearning and remembering will help better engrain it in their memory.

How Can We Create the Spacing Effect?

Spaced repetition is simple, but highly effective because it deliberately hacks the way your brain works. It forces learning to be effortful and, like muscles, the brain responds to that stimulus by strengthening the connections between nerve cells. By spacing the intervals out, you’re further exercising these connections each time. It produces long term, durable retention of knowledge.


Teaching ideas:

  • Use quizzes to test prior learning of a topic/skill
  • Exploit opportunities to frequently revisit topics/skills, leaving gaps of several weeks in between
  • Incorporate starter activities or plenaries which focus on a different topic/skill to that of the main lesson
  • Ask pupils to compare or contrast different topics/skills