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Spaced Learning is a learning method in which the condensed learning content is repeated three times, with two 10-minute breaks during which distractor activities such as physical activities are performed by the students. It is based on the temporal pattern of stimuli for creating long-term memories reported by R. Douglas Fields in Scientific American in 2005. This 'temporal code' Fields used in his experiments was developed into a learning method and tested by Paul Kelley as reported in Making Minds in 2008.
The Innovation Unit and others subsequently created an online resource on Spaced Learning in 2011. This can be downloaded and distributed freely to others . This web-based resource includes a description of Spaced Learning, its origins, a video of a full Spaced Learning session, comments from students and staff, and additional supporting materials.
Earlier descriptions of Spaced Learning often did not use the phrase 'spaced learning'. When the initial reports of outcomes were published, media seized upon the condensed learning content as the key element in the approach used in Kelley's school and the BBC national television news, The Sunday Times, The Independent, and The Economist reported the approach largely in those terms ('8 minute lessons'). This emphasis was misplaced, since Spaced Learning as a method depends on the length and number of the spaces (Fields' 'temporal code'), not the content presentation (which can vary). However, this misunderstanding was also included in reports in the educational press, notably The Times Educational Supplement. The description of the approach as 'Spaced Learning', clarifying the importance of the spaces, only appeared later. Additional research reported in The Times Educational Supplement, The Guardian, The Times, and The Daily Telegraph on 30 January 2009 reported that Spaced Learning successfully prepared students for a national examination in less than two hours with no traditional teaching at all.
The use of the term 'spaced' reflects the distinction in other research between 'spaced training' and 'massed training' where there have been conflicting results reported (for example, see spaced repetition). Spaced training is repeated training experiences separated by spaces (timed gaps often), massed training is a continuous block of training. It may be that Fields' discoveries resolve these issues by specifying the number of spaces required and the length of the spaces needed based on the fundamental cellular processes.
The significance of Spaced Learning may prove important in different ways:
- as a demonstration that neuroscience is now producing outcomes that can be directly implemented in education- as asserted by Kelley
- as a demonstration that conventional patterns of learning in formal education are fundamentally flawed
- as a demonstration that primary neuroscientific research has major implications for society
- or, alternatively, that scientific discoveries that appear promising solutions in learning are not, in the end, as effective as they seem.
The initial results for Spaced Learning seem promising, but the approach needs testing in many different contexts before being accepted as an important contribution to learning theory.
Osiris Educational is the sole training provider to other teachers and educational institutions in the UK that works closely with Kelley's school.
- Distributed practice
- Spaced presentation
- Spaced repetition
- Spacing effect
- Zeigarnik effect
- ↑ Patrick Barkham (13 Feb 2009), A sixth of a GCSE in 60 minutes?, The Guardian, pp. G2 4–7
- ↑ R.Douglas Fields (February, 2005), Making Memories Stick, Scientific American, pp. 58–63
- ↑ Paul Kelley, Making Minds: What's wrong with education- and what should we do about it?, Routledge, ISBN 0-415-41411-3
- ↑ The Sunday Times, 15 July 2007;The Independent, 15 September 2007; and The Economist, 2 June 2007
- ↑ The Times Educational Supplement, 29 June 2007
- ↑ Paul Kelley, Making Minds: What's wrong with education- and what should we do about it?, Routledge, London / New York,150-4
- Versions of the Spaced Learning toolkit in Italian and Chinese
- An essay about the latest findings in education and pedagogy
- Spaced learning toolkit by InnovationUnit
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