Interleaving is a cognitive psychology technique that is used to enhance learning. It involves alternating between different topics or skills during practice, rather than focusing on just one skill at a time. This approach has been found to improve long-term retention and application of knowledge, especially in complex and diverse subjects.

How Interleaving Works

Interleaving works by disrupting the pattern recognition that occurs when we practice a specific skill repeatedly. When we focus on one skill for a prolonged period, the brain becomes accustomed to the pattern and dedicates fewer resources to processing the information. However, when we switch between different skills or topics, the brain must work harder to recognize patterns and make connections between them.

The Benefits of Interleaving

Research has shown that interleaving can lead to improved long-term retention and transfer of knowledge. This means that learners who use interleaving are more likely to remember what they have learned and apply it in new situations.

Interleaving can also help learners identify similarities and differences between related topics. This can lead to deeper understanding of the material and better problem-solving skills.

Examples of Interleaving

Interleaving can be applied in many different ways, depending on the subject matter and learning goals. Here are some examples:

Effective Interleaving Strategies

While interleaving has many benefits for learning, it can also be challenging for learners who are used to focusing on one thing at a time. Here are some strategies for effective interleaving:

The Bottom Line

Interleaving is a powerful tool for enhancing learning and improving long-term retention. By alternating between different skills or topics during practice, learners can improve their ability to recognize patterns, identify similarities and differences, and apply knowledge in new situations. While interleaving can be challenging, effective strategies such as spaced repetition and feedback can help learners reap the benefits of this technique.