Cavalho, P. F., Braithwaite, D. W., de Leeuw, J. R., Motz, B. A., & Goldstone, R. L. (2015). Effectiveness of learner-regulated study sequence: An in-vivo study in introductory psychology courses. Proceedings of the Thirty-Seventh Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 309-314). Pasadena, CA: Cognitive Science Society.
Study sequence can have a profound impact on learning. Previous research has often shown advantages for interleaved over blocked study, though the reverse has also been found. Learners typically prefer blocking even in situations for which interleaving is superior. The present study investigated learner regulation of study sequence, and its effects on learning in an ecologically valid context – university students using an online tutorial relevant to an exam that counted toward their course grades. The majority of participants blocked study by problem category, and this tendency was positively associated with subsequent exam performance. The results suggest that preference for blocked study may be adaptive under some circumstances, and highlight the importance of identifying task environments under which different study sequences are most effective.