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What is the most effective way to study? For instance, assume a student has the following 4 classes in parallel:

1- C++ & Data-structure
2- Logic Design
3- Linear Algebra
4- Integration

Should the student study 1 course per day, or study all 4 courses every day to study efficiently? In other words, should a student learn big chunks of information on one course/topic, or study multiple courses/topics in parallel to learn the most in the least amount of time?

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    $\begingroup$ Does the linked [possibly dupe] question above answer your question? $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Commented Sep 27, 2017 at 21:39
  • $\begingroup$ I've focused the question on time, making it substantially different from the sustepected dupe and in line with below answer. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 23:07

1 Answer 1

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According to the distributed learning strategy which is based on a phenomenon called spacing effect, it is better to study classes in parallel.

Distributed practice (also known as spaced repetition or spaced practice) is a learning strategy, where practice is broken up into a number of short sessions – over a longer period of time. Humans and animals learn items in a list more effectively when they are studied in several sessions spread out over a long period of time, rather than studied repeatedly in a short period of time, a phenomenon called the spacing effect.

The opposite, massed practice, consists of fewer, longer training sessions. It is generally a less effective method of learning.

Reference :

Greene, Robert L.. Spacing effects in memory: Evidence for a two process account. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition15. 3 (May 1989): 371-377

Challis, Bradford H.. (Mar 1993). Spacing effects on cued-memory tests depend on level of processing. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition 19. 2, 389-396.

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    $\begingroup$ I think the question is quite specifically asking whether mixing different chunks of info is better or not; you answer the question from a single-information source perspective. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 8:20
  • $\begingroup$ Further, you say effective - I think this is a nice approach given the suspected dupe question. The dupe focuses a little more on longer retention; perhaps we could drive this question toward faster learning? $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 8:23
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    $\begingroup$ To prevent dupe closure I've focused this question on time effectiveness. I hope your answer is still valid. +1 $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Commented Sep 28, 2017 at 23:09
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    $\begingroup$ @AliceD Yes still valid. Very good comments and changes, that I believe enhance the understanding of the whole subject. The theory behind my answer is "When items are distributed, different contextual information is encoded with each presentation. .. This leads to more retrieval cues being encoded with spaced than with massed items". The possible dupe question mostly focus on cognitive load perspective, so I believe is useful to keep the both active. $\endgroup$ Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 5:46
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    $\begingroup$ Awesome. Thanks for this all. I'll clean up the comments in due time. They may still be useful for any potential close voters, for now. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Commented Sep 29, 2017 at 6:29

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