Initial learning experience affects learners’ selection of subsequent study schedule

AbstractDespite myriad research about the interleaving effect, learners tend to favor blocked schedule (grouping exemplars by category) over interleaved schedule (intermingling exemplars). We explored critical factors to engage more people in adopting interleaved schedule by using a painting style learning task. Participants studied the first section in an interleaved schedule and had either a test or restudy on that section. They were then asked to select their own study schedule for the subsequent section. The results revealed the interleaving effect regardless of the interim-activity. More importantly, even though the interim-activity did not make participants’ selection in the two conditions different, participants’ performance in the interim-test significantly predicted their selections, which implied that the better learning in the first section, the more likely they chose interleaved schedule for the subsequent section. These findings suggest that ameliorating leaners’ initial learning experience with interleaved schedule may debias their preferences toward blocked schedule.

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