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 3 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

Most Commented

Monster behind man at desk

Despite all that’s been done to improve doctoral study, horror stories keep coming. Here three students relate PhD nightmares while two academics advise on how to ensure a successful supervision

Sir Christopher Snowden, former Universities UK president, attacks ratings in wake of Southampton’s bronze award

opinion illustration

Eliminating cheating services, even if it were possible, would do nothing to address students’ and universities’ lack of interest in learning, says Stuart Macdonald

Female professor

New data show proportion of professors who are women has declined at some institutions

celebrate, cheer, tef results

Emilie Murphy calls on those who challenged the teaching excellence framework methodology in the past to stop sharing their university ratings with pride