Education Endowment Foundation:Spaced Learning

Spaced Learning

Hallam Teaching School Alliance
Independent Evaluator
Queen’s University Belfast
A teaching approach where content is intensively taught multiple times with breaks in between.
Schools 15 Grant £357,720.0
Key Stage 1 Duration 1 year(s) 5 month(s) 30 day(s) Type of Trial Pilot Study
Completed Jul 2016

The project will test Spaced Learning, which involves teachers delivering the same content across multiple sessions, with breaks in between. The Hallam Teaching School Alliance initially intends to develop this approach with a small number of schools, refining the strategy and developing resources for use within science lessons. Following this there would be further development with a larger number of schools, testing out the optimal way of delivering the intervention, including exploring how long the gaps between teaching sessions should be.

This project has been funded as part of joint initiative with the Wellcome Trust to explore how insights from neuroscience can be used to improve education. You can read more about this here.

A meta-analysis of 120 studies showed that Spaced Learning has a significant effect on recall. The approach has also been trialled by Monkseaton High School in North Tyneside, this study included a matched control group and the intervention group scored significantly higher in a topic test when Spaced Learning was used in revision sessions. In addition to educational evidence, evidence from cellular experiments in neuroscience suggests that connections between neurones are strengthened if a certain stimulus is repeated several times with intervals of inactivity.

This project will usefully add to the evidence base by piloting different iterations of the approach to find which is most practical for schools and which has the biggest impact on attainment.

The evaluation will be led by Liam O’Hare from the Centre for Effective Education at Queen’s University Belfast. The resources, which will be developed during the first phase of the project, will then be piloted with 15 schools over an academic year. Pilot studies aim to explore an intervention’s feasibility and develop the approach in a small number of schools.The pilot will run as a series of mini-trials’, with schools varying what they do and the evaluator looking at the impacts of different delivery models on the efficacy of the approach and the ease of implementation for schools

The evaluation report will be published in early 2017.