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Optimising retention through multiple study opportunities over days: The benefit of an expanding schedule of repetitions

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Few studies have investigated how scheduling repeated studies of the same material over several days influences its subsequent retention. The study-phase retrieval hypothesis predicts that, under these circumstances, expanding intervals between repetitions will promote the greatest likelihood that the participant will be reminded of previous occurrences of the item, thus leading to a benefit for subsequent recall. In the present article, participants studied vocabulary pairs that were repeated according to one of three schedules. In the expanding schedule, pairs were presented on days 1, 2 and 13; in the uniform schedule, on days 1, 7 and 13; and in the contracting schedule, on days 1, 12 and 13. Cued-recall was assessed after a retention interval (RI) of 2, 6 or 13 days. Consistent with predictions, the expanding schedule generally led to better performance than the other schedules. However, further analyses suggested that the benefit of an expanding schedule may be greater when the RI is longer.
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Keywords: Distributed practice; Expanding schedule; Long-term retention; Repetition; Spacing effect

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Laboratoire d'Etudes des Mécanismes Cognitifs (EMC) – EA 3082 – Université Lyon 2, Université de Lyon, Bron, France 2: Department of Psychology, Villanova University, Villanova, PA, USA

Publication date: August 18, 2015

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