Study Strategies: Interleaved Practice

Interleaved Practice has its roots in cognitive psychology and educational research. Similar to the Pomodoro Technique and the Zeigarnik Effect, it offers a structured approach to learning, optimizing how you acquire and retain new skills. By mixing up different topics or tasks instead of focusing on one at a time, Interleaved Practice challenges your brain to make connections and strengthens your overall understanding.

How does it work?

Unlike traditional “block” practice, where you dedicate large chunks of time to one skill before moving on to the next, Interleaved Practice involves mixing multiple skills or subjects within a single study session. For example, instead of practicing one skill such as reading, or one grammatical structure, for an hour, you might alternate between different structures, topics or skills.

Here’s how you can incorporate Interleaved Practice into your study routine:

  1. Variety is key: Instead of drilling the same type of problems or material repeatedly, mix things up. Challenge yourself by tackling a diverse range of tasks or subjects within each study session.

  2. Embrace the struggle: Interleaved Practice can feel more challenging than block practice because it requires you to switch gears frequently. Don’t be discouraged if it feels difficult at first—this struggle is actually a sign that your brain is working hard to make connections and reinforce learning.

  3. Focus on retrieval: One of the key benefits of Interleaved Practice is its impact on retrieval—the process of recalling information from memory. By interleaving different topics, you force your brain to retrieve information from different parts of your memory, making it more likely to stick.

  4. Mix it up strategically: While Interleaved Practice involves switching between topics, it’s important to do so strategically. Look for connections between different skills or subjects, and alternate between them in a way that reinforces your understanding and retention.

By incorporating Interleaved Practice into your study routine, you can enhance your ability to apply and retain new skills. So, the next time you sit down to study, consider mixing things up and embracing the power of interleaving. Your brain will thank you for it!

See also: The Zeigarnik Effect and The Pomodoro Technique.