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Version 1.2 – Updated June 2023

Spaced vs. mass practice


  • Influence: Spaced vs. mass practice
  • Domain: Student Learning Strategies
  • Sub-Domain: Learning strategies
  • Potential to Accelerate Student Achievement: Potential to considerably accelerate
  • Influence Definition: The claim is that students are better able to commit information to memory when they study that information in spaced (or distributed) intervals rather than all at once in a "massed" interval. Spaced practices involve practice broken up into a number of shorter sessions, over a longer period of time. Massed practice consists of fewer, longer training sessions. Ebbinghaus's Forgetting Curve displays the pattern of the number of spaced practices increase, so does the amount of information retained each time.


  • Number of meta-analyses: 5
  • Number of studies: 510
  • Number of students: 167,763
  • Number of effects: 1,115
  • Weighted mean effect size: 0.59
  • Robustness index: 4


Journal Title Author First Author's Country Article Name Year Published Variable Number of Studies Number of Students Number of Effects Effect Size
Research quarterly for exercise and sport Lee & Genovese USA Distribution of practice in motor skill acquisition: Learning and performance effects reconsidered 1988 Spaced vs. massed practice 52 0 52 0.96
Journal of Applied Psychology Donovan & Radosevich USA A meta-analytic review of the distribution of practice effect: Now you see it, now you don't 1999 Spaced vs. massed practice 63 0 112 0.46
Journal of Consumer Research Janiszewski, Noel & Sawyer USA A meta-analysis of the spacing effect in verbal learning: Implications for research on advertising repetition and consumer memory 2003 Spaced vs. massed practice 61 0 484 0.72
Nature: Science of Learning Hattie & Donoghue Australia Learning strategies: A synthesis and conceptual model. 2016 Distributed practice 150 152,952 150 0.85
Psychological bulletin Cepeda, Pashler, Vul, Wixted & Rohrer USA Distributed practice in verbal recall tasks: A review and quantitative synthesis.  2009 Spaced vs. massed practice 184 14,811 317 0.27
TOTAL/AVERAGE 510 167,763 1,115 0.65
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