Spacing out repetition is more effective for learning than is practicing an idea over a single period (even if it is longer than each of the many repetitions). Interleaving the practice of problems types results in greater learning gains than asking students to do the same type of problem over and over (massed practice). Interleaving increases students' ability to discriminate between different problem types.
- Space how often content/concepts are reviewed or recalled across weeks and months.
- Administer cumulative problem sets and exams throughout the semester.
- Review concepts covered in previous class periods/modules at the beginning of each class.
- Rearrange the order of practice problems in problem sets and exams as opposed to ordering problems by type.
18.03 Differential Equations | Laurent Demanet:
Each problem set contains two parts. Part A contains problems directly related to the current unit. Part B, however, typically requires the application of all methods covered up to date as well as new ones allowing students to apply previously learned concepts periodically. In addition, the final for this class is cumulative. Problem sets in 18.01, 18.02 and 18.03 are also structured this way.
7.03 Genetics | Gerry Fink & Peter Reddien:
Halfway through the semester, students were assigned a "Lab Practical Assignment" which combined more than half of the concepts covered in the semester, presented as a multi-step simulated laboratory assignment. In this assignment, students were provided with a set of mutant strains isolated after a genetic screen. Using a genetics experiment simulator, StarGenetics, students performed a series of genetic analyses covered throughout the semester to uncover the genetic basis for these mutations.
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