Thursday, April 27, 2017

Interleaving? What is the Interleaving Effect?

A Guide to Interleaving?

Learning requires repetition and exposure of concepts over time, the pacing and spacing of concepts has a significant impact on memory and retention. That is all common knowledge but adding interleaving has a multiplying effect on learning and retention.  Interleaving curriculum produces multiple exposure to mixed concepts that are interrelated and sometime inter-leveled. interleaving of concepts produces better learning than blocking in every study for the past 30 years. Many text books use a blocked concepts model, teaching the same concept in blocks, e.g. fractions or long division units for a few weeks. Interleaving exposes students to interrelated math concepts or societal phenomena. Text book A might use a concept block (Fraction Unit) A1, A2, A3, A4, yet a interleaving text book might use mixed block (Algebraic thinking and Numbers and Operations) of A1, B2, C3, D4, E5. So why are so many teachers and publishers not using brain based pacing, spacing, and interleaving to maximize learning and memory retention?

Interleaving improves the brains ability to learn and remember! Building and strengthening long-term memory that deepens and improves concept understanding, starts with brain based teaching practices. Interleaving taps into brain based learning research, we are discovering new ways to maximize the brains ability to build long term memory. Interleaving teaching and curriculum's starts by designing curriculum and lessons that are pedagogically paced, sequenced, interleaved and spiraled to maximize retention and deepen understanding of complex or difficult contextual concepts. Key concepts of interleaving learning principles: Multiple exposures over time to varied concepts, practice retrieval and review of new information, anchoring background knowledge with new learning, use multiple learning strategies and tactics with all lessons, and as with practicing over time the more you practice and interleave the concepts, the easier they are to retrieve. Interleaving can also include multiple academic subjects, phenomena, and or ideas. 

In years gone by, the grading system was enough to let us think that students were learning. However, opinions are now changing and we wonder whether students are retaining the knowledge in the long-term or whether they are just being taught with the exams in mind. Today, we want to take this one step further and look into the interleaving effect.

What is it? - First and foremost, we should cover the meaning of interleaving and it is essentially the opposite of ‘blocking’ or ‘cramming’. While these two terms look to teach students in sections, interleaving leaves the door open and returns to each section multiple times throughout the year. With this in mind, students don’t just have one chance to learn it; instead, their foundation of knowledge builds stronger and stronger each time it comes around in class. Ultimately, the idea is that a student retains this knowledge for years to come rather than just learning it for the exam and then forgetting.

Ever since the early 1980s, interleaving has been gaining traction and now there has been many studies assessing the effectiveness of the technique. However, very few used real-world examples until very recently. Now, we can be confident and factually-correct when we say that interleaving has a dramatic impact on long-term learning; especially in math. Over the course of a school year, key math techniques and vital sections to the curriculum are learned better when they are brought up multiple times rather than just the once.

Teachers - If we look at the role of teachers, we have found recently that there are two main types of teacher depending on their stance on interleaving. With the first, they assume that all the information in prior lessons has been learned and they move on with this assumption. With the second teacher, they go over what has been learned in previous lessons before taking it a step further to embed this knowledge. Rather than knowing facts, teacher two looks deeper at why information is important and exactly how it works.

According to the ‘Forgetting Curve’, a graph belonging to a German psychologist in the 19th century, it takes just three days to lose 20% of a new topic. However, this retention of information improves as it is reviewed time and time again. Essentially, this is the interleaving method in action because one would go over information many times rather than relying upon our brains to remember everything first time.

Methods - For students, teachers, and principals of schools, we now have a couple of methods you could use to bring interleaving into education.

New and Old Material - Firstly, we tend to focus on new material only when studying for an exam but students should be encouraged to revise old material too. Sometimes, we also revise information in the same order it was taught but it can be handy to mix it up so bear this in mind for revision classes and such.

Interleaving and Others - If the best results are to be seen, interleaving needs to be combined with other strategies including practice tests and retrieval practice. Over time, these strategies will cement the information in the mind for the long-term.

Relation - Next, the information you interleave needs to be related otherwise the students will wind up confused and they won’t see the full effects. For example, don’t combine subjects but rather the information within a particular topic.

Work Hard - Finally, this isn't some magical formula that helps to increase the performance of the brain. If you don’t see results straight away, keep going and keep using the technique because this is what interleaving is all about. If necessary, mix it up, use other techniques, and allow students to work in groups! 

[PDF]Spacing Effect - Iowa State University
Spacing and Interleaving of Study and Practice. Shana K. ... recommendations regarding two specific learning principles—the spacing effect and the interleaving.

[PDF]Interleaved Practice Improves Mathematics Learning
Interleaved practice requires students to choose a strategy on the basis of the ..... the effects of interleaved mathematics practice in a classroom-.

[PDF]The Interleaving Effect: Mixing It Up Boosts ... - Dyslexic Advantage
The Interleaving Effect: Mixing It Up Boosts Learning - Scientific American ... .

[PDF]The benefits of interleaved and blocked study - Indiana University ...
Interleaved or blocked study results in better learning depends on whether study is ... which instances are presented in a study session and the effect this has for ...

[PDF]The benefit of interleaved mathematics practice is not limited ... - Gwern
This interleaving effect was observed even though the different kinds of problems were superficially dissimilar from each other, whereas previ- ous interleaved ...

[PDF]Linking Cognitive Science to Education: Generation and Interleaving ...
Linking Cognitive Science to Education: Generation and Interleaving Effects. Lindsey E. Richland

[PDF]Why interleaving enhances inductive learning - Bjork Learning and ...
further tested the discriminative-contrast hypothesis by exam- ining the effects of interleaving and spacing, as well as their combined effects. In three experiments ...

[PDF]Rohrer, D. (2012). Interleaving helps students distinguish ... - ERIC
Interleaving effect. A simple example of an interleaving study, though it involved motor skills rather than cognitive skills, was reported by Hall, Domingues, and.

[PDF]Spaced Repetition Promotes Efficient and ... - Dartmouth College
Although most studies on spaced or interleaved practice have been conducted in ... observed effect of spacing/interleaving is impressive. Second, the instructors ...

[PDF]The effects of practice schedule on learning a complex judgment task
Studying the effects of different practice schedules on learning and transfer of ..... Therefore, Experiment 2 investigated the effects of interleaving and blocked ...

[PDF]Kornell and Bjork (2008)
(massed) or interleaved with other artists' paintings. (spaced). We then ... The spacing effect refers to the nearly ubiquitous finding that items studied once and ...

[PDF]effect of practice schedules on concept & category learning - MacSphere
Interleaving exemplars from different to-be-learned categories, rather than blocking exemplars by category, often enhances the inductive learning of those ...

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