Comparing Adaptive and Random Spacing Schedules during Learning to Mastery Criteria

AbstractAdaptive generation of spacing intervals in learning using response times improves learning relative to both adaptive systems that do not use response times and fixed spacing schemes (Mettler, Massey & Kellman, 2016). Studies have often used limited presentations (e.g., 4) of each learning item. Does adaptive practice benefit learning if items are presented until attainment of objective mastery criteria? Does it matter if mastered items drop out of the active learning set? We compared adaptive and non-adaptive spacing under conditions of mastery and dropout. Experiment 1 compared random presentation order with no dropout to adaptive spacing and mastery using the ARTS (Adaptive Response-time-based Sequencing) system. Adaptive spacing produced better retention than random presentation. Experiment 2 showed clear learning advantages for adaptive spacing compared to random schedules that also included dropout. Adaptive spacing performs better than random schedules of practice, including when learning proceeds to mastery and items drop out when mastered.

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