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Does spaced repetition work?


May 17, 2023



Does spaced repetition work

How is it best to make sure that important information ‘sticks’ in our minds? Many educators and trainers suggest that spaced repetition is the answer. Yet, does spaced repetition work? And just how effective is spaced repetition? In this article, we’ll take a look at how effective spaced repetition is and how you can implement spaced repetition tools for your teams.

Overview of spaced repetition

In a nutshell, spaced repetition is when learning content is repeatedly reviewed at increasing intervals. For example, some material is presented in a lesson. Then it is reviewed 2 days later, 4 days after that, a week after that, two weeks after that, and so on. 

SC Training (formerly EdApp) spaced repetition

Reviews do not mean repeating the same lesson again. Rather, trainers use a variety of activity types to go over the material in different ways. 

Spaced repetition both reinforces learning and helps you fill in learning gaps among learners in every recap session until the material is well-remembered and fully understood.

How does spaced repetition work?

Like most things, spaced repetition works excellently under suitable conditions. 

Uses an effective spacing algorithm

Educators and trainers often set up their own spaced repetition schedules. It is part of most pedagogical frameworks. However, data has shown that there are optimal spacing schedules.

When organizing your spaced repetition schedule, you need to take into consideration factors such as the type of task. For example, studies with adults have found that spaced repetition enhances learning to a greater degree in skill-related tasks than in language-related tasks. Researchers are not sure why. They theorize that it has something to do with the way in which our brain consolidates memory during sleep, how familiar we are with the material or skill, and how easy or difficult it is for our particular brain to retrieve what we have learned.

Effective spaced repetition schedule using SC Training (formerly EdApp)

Another factor in optimizing your spaced repetition schedule is the space between the lesson and the review. 

One set of researchers gave their adult learners 1 lesson and 1 review. When the space between the lesson and the review was 1 day, the recall was about 86% during the test a week later. However, if the space between the lesson and the review was 10 days, the recall dropped to around 62% during the test a week later. 

This and other data show that the spaced repetition schedule must be frequent enough to minimize forgetting.

Includes the right activities

People tend to go with what they know. Many teachers and trainers use familiar methods to review material. Unfortunately, these methods do not always reflect what most people now know about learning and memory. As a result, they are often not the optimal activities to use to increase retention of knowledge and skills.

Offers a suitable study environment

One study investigated the use of spaced repetition in elementary school classrooms. It found that ‘the results were mixed’. The researchers theorized that ‘classroom noise’ might reduce the positive benefits of spaced repetition or the ability of researchers to find any. 

SC Training (formerly EdApp) spaced repetition - suitable study environment

Another study took place in two classrooms: a middle school class (junior high/high school) and a college-level class. In both cases, despite any noise, ‘the observed effect of spacing/interleaving was impressive’.

So, noise may or may not have an impact on the answer to “how effective is spaced repetition”. In any case, it points to the fact that you need to consider the study environment when using this technique.

Showcases learners’ study habits

Not all learners are the same, and this has nothing to do with their cognitive (brain) abilities. It has to do with how they study.

Some students naturally review material according to a self-regulated, spaced schedule. These students tend to succeed more often. Other students cram before an evaluation which usually leads to lower performance. 

Some data shows that ‘spaced study might work as a buffer’, especially effective for students who cannot self-regulate their spaced repetition.

A spaced repetition solution for the workplace

To recap, workplaces need a spaced repetition method which:

  • uses an effective spacing algorithm
  • includes the right activities
  • offers a suitable study environment
  • showcases learners’ study habits

A great option that you can take advantage of is SC Training (formerly EdApp)’s Spaced Repetition feature.

Algorithm: SC Training (formerly EdApp) has chosen the Supermemo SM-2 interval algorithm, a product of much research and development into memory and forgetting.

SC Training (formerly EdApp) spaced repetition algorithm

Activities: Your trainee completes a required lesson. The SC Training (formerly EdApp) LMS analyzes your trainees' performance. Then, its Brain Boost component creates a personalized follow-up quiz and delivers it in spaced intervals. Personalization means that each trainee’s time is optimized, rather than wasted.

Study environment: Some of your employees will tell you that noise helps them study. Others are just the opposite. Your SC Training (formerly EdApp) LMS offers both. As it is mobile-friendly and available 24/7 (with or without an internet connection), your people can review where and when they like.  

Check study habits: If your trainees do not complete their spaced repetition activities, you will know via SC Training (formerly EdApp)’s analytics and reporting dashboards. You can then follow up with automated reminders or even in-person chats if needed.

Get started with SC Training (formerly EdApp) now and enjoy the perks of spaced repetition!


Guest Author Lisa Aharon

Lisa Aharon is a guest author at SC Training (formerly EdApp), offering varied experience as a computer programmer/analyst, technical writer, secretary/bookkeeper, copy editor, creative writer, and English teacher.

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