Current & Recent Studies

We are currently exploring the effects of blocking vs. interleaving of material as well as generation on student learning in the context of a WISE module about the scientific possibilities of life beyond Earth. We are using the module with undergraduate psychology students. We are interested in investigating the broader question of what kind of materials the interleaving and generation effects work for. We have looked at blocked vs. interleaved presentation orders and different levels of generation (e.g. simple sentence completion vs. answering more complex questions).

We are currently running an experiment using WISE in which participants must learn about star formation and planet formation, two higly competitive topics. We are looking at the effects of learning this material in blocked versus interleaved presentation orders, and even in orders that increase competition by juxtaposing similar slides.  Our latest version of this experiment includes several repetitions of chunks of information, which is more along the lines of what has been done in previous experiments with simple material.  In addition, a new experiment interleaves or blocks two unrelated topics.

We are also running a study to distinguish between the effects of interleaving and spacing on learning of foreign language vocabulary (Estonian and Swahili).

We have just begun to look at metacognitive issues, such as whether certain kinds of generation result in more accurate judgments of learning than others and whether blocked vs. interleaved presentation orders have different effects on peoples' predictions of how well they'll perform on an upcoming test of the material (foreign language vocab).

We are running a study to look at potential interleaving effects on how well people learn to calculate new formulas.

UC Berkeley
The UC Berkeley IDDEAS group is implementing a series of studies contrasting versions of WISE projects that explore desirable difficulties shown to succeed in laboratory studies. The WISE learning environment enables us to design projects with alternative forms of instruction. However, ensuring that the distinctions recommended in laboratory studies result in educationally meaningful classroom experiences is challenging.

The booming, buzzing character of middle school classrooms introduces variability not found in laboratory studies. Only dramatic effects will show up in classroom instruction. In addition, transferring laboratory findings to the classroom leaves many questions unanswered. Effective transfer involves design of instruction followed by customization and tuning based on classroom experiences. Furthermore, school context often dictates localized customizations. In related research we are investigating the nature of customization across diverse school settings (see SCALE), and the elements of learning environment design that capitalize on technology enhancements (see TELS).