Spaced Repetition Benefits Students and Professionals

People are continuously learning how different teaching methods can affect education. This has never been clearer than with spaced repetition, which is currently enjoying mainstream success. But what is this new learning technique, and how can it benefit learners?

What is Spaced Repetition?

Spaced repetition is a learning hack that uses flashcards and progressive intervals of time in order to help solidify a person’s memory and knowledge on a particular subject. The technique works by creating a set of flashcards on a specific subject, then reviewing and assessing a person’s memory on the subject by progressively longer periods of time. With biweekly or weekly assessments, the student would retain more knowledge than cramming for an exam in a shorter amount of time.

Spaced repetition is an element of the spacing effect, which theorizes that learning is optimized over a greater amount of time. Several studies have been done on the spacing effect, which shows that memory is enhanced and new neurons are created based on the simple act of learning a concept or theory over time. A study published by the National Institutes of Health focuses on this very idea.

An Aid for Students

Students are often the best examples of who will benefit from spaced repetition. Sites like focus on this learning technique, allowing students to implement it into their daily schedule. The introduction of spaced repetition in the form of online flashcards that students can then tailor to their specific needs allows them to focus on active recall and gauge metacognition on their own terms.

Perfect for Professionals

Professionals can also use spaced repetition. It is useful for licensure exams and continuing studies, such as a psychologist becoming licensed in a specialization or a doctor becoming accustomed to new data systems utilized for diagnosis purposes. The uses of the technique can vary but are often listed as one of the newest techniques for alternative learning methods.

The Science

People often used repetition to remember things, but with a reported 800 academic studies touting the efficacy of spaced repetition, how a person utilizes spaced repetition is coming to the forefront of education. Everyone from teachers to professionals is using the science to teach themselves difficult concepts, remember useful information, and generally improve their cognition.

Because spaced repetition is an evidence-based learning technique, academic studies aren’t quite as important as getting real results. However, it is comforting to know that as the general understanding of technology and education grows, so too do the number of learning techniques that can have sustained impacts on the lives of the students and professionals who use them.

No matter what type of subject might need to be learned, both students and professionals will benefit from using spaced repetition. The teaching method is now universally used, so apps and websites continue to pop up that champion it as a holy grail of learning. If the reader is interested in new ways of learning, spaced repetition is the best place to start.