The most efficient sequence of study depends on the type of test

Carvalho, P. F., & Goldstone, R. L. (2021). The most efficient sequence of study depends on the type of test.  Applied Cognitive Psychology, 35, 82-97.

Across three experiments featuring naturalistic concepts (psychology concepts) and na├»ve learners, we extend previous research showing an effect of the sequence of study on learning outcomes, by demonstrating that the sequence of examples during study changes the representation the learner creates of the study materials. We compared participants’ performance in test tasks requiring different representations and evaluated which sequence yields better learning in which type of tests. We found that interleaved study, in which examples from different concepts are mixed, leads to the creation of relatively interrelated concepts that are represented by contrast to each other and based on discriminating properties. Conversely, blocked study, in which several examples of the same concept are presented together, leads to the creation of relatively isolated concepts that are represented in terms of their central and characteristic properties. These results argue for the integrated investigation of the benefits of different sequences of study as depending on the characteristics of the study and testing situation.

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