• Distributed Practice

    It has happened more than once. A parent looks at a child’s homework assignment and states, “I thought you were done studying this,” or “I thought you already learned this.”

    When initial teaching of a new concept occurs, the student is required to use that concept in a number of different situations. This often occurs in one or two class periods, and is then followed up with homework, perhaps integrated with another subject, reviewed for a test, and then tested. Is a student now done with that concept? No.

    In order for a concept to be well learned and retained, the learner must continue to practice that skill or concept over time. Lessons or exercises that demand that skill must be distributed throughout the year so that the skill is not forgotten.

    Distributed Practice might occur in this way:

    October

    • Student learns how quotation marks are used.
    • On a worksheet, students must add quotation marks where needed.

    November

    • Students must rewrite a dialogue using proper quotation marks.
    • Students must use quotation marks in spelling sentences.

    December

    • Students must (again) use quotation marks in spelling sentences.
    • Students must create an original dialogue between two historical figures.

    And so on. Later in the year, the content (proper use of quotation marks) should be so well learned that it will be employed automatically into the student’s work (such as dialogue in an original short story).

Last Modified on September 8, 2006