Monthly Archives: April 2019

Interleaving versus spaced practice

One thing I’ve been ruminating about lately is if the benefits of interleaving are due to it being a form of spaced practice, or if it does offer its own unique benefits. The benefits of spaced practice are already well-known, and has been recommended by many education experts for decades. According to some experts interleaving is just a form of spaced practice, according to others it isn’t.

However, a key difference between spaced practice and interleaving is that spaced practice usually involves learning the same thing, but spaced apart by a significant length of time. Sometimes the gap between practice sessions is 30 minutes, sometimes several hours. This article got me thinking: Interleaving: are we getting it all wrong?

Interleaving, on the other hand, usually involves learning variations of the same skill, at least according to some practitioners(there’s a lot of debate if interleaving works best only for similar skills rather than totally unrelated material). In my case with the unicycle, or tin whistle, I practice the same exact skill on 2 or more different sized unicycles, sometimes at 10 minute intervals(ABABABA). In other words, is the learning deeper if I learn to juggle or play tin whistle on a 20″ unicycle, or both a 20″ and 24″ unicycle?

My anecdotal experience suggests that yes it does, and in an earlier post on interleaving I did post some evidence supporting this. If you learn the same skill with different equipment, that gives your brain more data points to work with, deepening the learning, and potentially helping you learn faster. I rarely use a true spaced practice approach.

Obviously more research is needed, but until then I’ll continue to use an interleaving approach since I’m obviously doing well using it.

Related article:

Spaced and interleaved practice