The Effects of Interleaving on Mathematical Understanding

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  • How does interleaving the mathematics curriculum while promoting productive struggle, improve student understanding in and between mathematical concepts? To clarify, I mean to say that ‘understanding’ is more about knowing ‘why’ and knowing ‘when’ to apply specific concepts and strategies, and not just knowing ‘what’ the mathematical concepts are. Interleaving is a multilayered approach, varying the curriculum to allow students to discriminate between strategies they already know and apply them to new information. It is a way of deepening their understanding, allowing them to productively struggle (Warshauer, 2015), think critically and problem solve to come to their own conclusions. Research shows there is benefit to interleaving practice and intermixing different kinds of practice problems and spacing out the same types of problems across different tasks (Rohrer, Dedrick & Stershic, 2014; Rohrer, Dedrick & Burgess, 2014). Spaced practice interrupts forgetting (Brown et al., 2014). This allows for the creation of a variety of mental models of information and transforms it from short term memory into long term memory and allows for better recall. Experiencing different conditions and circumstances to create our information model broadens mastery, fosters conceptual learning, improves versatility and primes the mind for learning (Brown et al., 2014).

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    Research Material
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    Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International