A lesson worth learning

April 24, 2014

It is useful to learn from Hazel Christie’s thoughtful review of Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning by Peter C. Brown, Henry L. Roediger III and Mark A. McDaniel (Books, 3 April) that the first principle they propose is that learning should be distributed and not massed.

In 1885 in Memory: A Contribution to Experimental Psychology, Hermann Ebbinghaus (1850-1909) reported his pioneering experiment, which showed the superiority of distribution, and noted that: “The school-boy doesn’t force himself to learn his vocabularies and rules altogether at night, but knows that he must impress them again in the morning. A teacher distributes his class lesson not indifferently over the period at his disposal, but reserves in advance a part of it for one or more reviews.”

One wonders why it has taken so long for the efficacy of these practices to be fully appreciated.

R. E. Rawles
Honorary research fellow in psychology
University College London

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Postdoctoral Fellowship in Electrochemistry

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Research Positions in Nanotechnology

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

PhD Fellowship in Electrocatalysis

Norwegian University Of Science & Technology -ntnu

Lecturer in Business and Management

De Montfort University

Reader in International Development

University Of Wolverhampton
See all jobs

Most Commented

Doctoral study can seem like a 24-7 endeavour, but don't ignore these other opportunities, advise Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman

Matthew Brazier illustration (9 February 2017)

How do you defeat Nazis and liars? Focus on the people in earshot, says eminent Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt

Improvement, performance, rankings, success

Phil Baty sets out why the World University Rankings are here to stay – and why that's a good thing

Warwick vice-chancellor Stuart Croft on why his university reluctantly joined the ‘flawed’ teaching excellence framework

people dressed in game of thrones costume

Old Germanic languages are back in vogue, but what value are they to a modern-day graduate? Alice Durrans writes