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Massed practice occurs when the material to be learned is presented repeatedly in a short period time. In psychology, the spacing effect refers to the fact that humans and animals more easily remember or learn items in a list when they are studied a few times over a long period of time ("spaced presentation"), rather than with massed practice.
The phenomenon was first identified by Hermann Ebbinghaus; his detailed study of it was published in the 1885 book Memory: A Contribution to Experimental Psychology. This robust phenomenon has been found in many explicit memory tasks such as free recall, recognition, cued-recall, and frequency estimation (for reviews see Crowder 1976; Greene, 1989).