Kost, A., Cavalho, P. F., & Goldstone, R. L. (2015). Can you repeat that? The effect of item repetition on interleaved and blocked study. Proceedings of the Thirty-Seventh Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. (pp. 1189-1194). Pasadena, CA: Cognitive Science Society.
Three experiments explore differences between blocked and interleaved study with and without item repetition. In the first experiment we find that when items are repeated during study, blocked study results in higher test performance than interleaved study. In the second experiment we find that when there is no item repetition, interleaved and blocked study result in equivalent performance during the test phase. In the third experiment we find that when the study is passive and includes no item repetition, interleaved study results in higher test performance. We propose that learners create associations between items of the same category during blocked study and item repetition strengthens these associations. Interleaved study leads to weaker associations between items of the same category and therefore results in worse performance during test when there are item repetitions.