Spacing is the process of spreading out study or learning time (Willingham, 2002). Research has proven that “distributing study time over several sessions generally leads to better memory of the information than conducting a single study session” (Willingham, 2002). This is the opposite of “cramming”, which involves studying for a long, intense period of time leading up to an exam or due date (Weinstein, 2016).
Interleaving is intertwined with the concept of spacing, and it encourages students to “mix, or interleave, multiple subjects or topics while they study in order to improve their learning” (University of Arizona [UA], 2020). Although more difficult than blocking (focusing on one topic at a time), interleaving creates stronger memory associations and differentiations between topics, leading to more frequent retrievals of memory and better long-term results (UA, 2020).
In both spacing and interleaving, learners “give their mind time to forget so that the brain, in subsequent study sessions, must struggle to recall the information that was learned previously” (UA, 2020).