Distributed Practice Strategies in D&T

Return to the Distributed Practice & Deliberate Practice Strategies in D&T page to see all resources

These strategies are considered in some depth on many of our coursesThis page gives some background to the strategy.


What is distributed practice?

Distributed practice, sometimes also called spaced practice and retrieval practice, is a strategy where is learning is revisited but in different ways. This strategy helps learners apply learning in different contexts which at the same time reinforces and strengthens it. This model of learning also links to the deliberate practice model because the focus is on learning being revisited in a deliberate and planned way. 

For a short summary on distributed practice read this article from the TES

For more detailed information read Making Good Progress by Daisy Christodoulou 

The Learning Scientists website has excellent free downloads on distributed practice 


How the Learning Scientists describe distributed practice

The Learning Scientists website identifies the following 6 strategies:

  1. Spaced practice – study of a topic spaced out over time with regular learning reviews and going back to key elements in order to embed the knowledge and to identify links to other learning.
  2. Retrieval practice – practise retrieving learning through regular targeted activities e.g. making cue card summaries, quick tests
  3. Elaboration – ask questions and make links and connections
  4. Interleaving – move between ideas when studying going back to idea done before and thereby making new links and connections
  5. Concrete examples – collect real examples and share ideas with others
  6. Dual coding – Record ideas in different ways, take notes previously written & transfer them into a different format

Find out more about the Learning Scientists and download their resources


Using distributed practice strategies in D&T

Much of the work we do uses the distributed practice model in some way. In particular we advocate a 5 year curriculum approach where years 7-11 are interlinked where appropriate. This makes better use of time and is more effective at embedding learning in the longer term. As the GCSE specifications have been designed to follow on from KS3, and as much of the learning for the core content is tested at KS3 level, and might be therefore be included in KS3 teaching, the use of a distributed practice model makes a lot of sense.

  • How can the curriculum be mapped against each so that learning progresses across key stages? What are the key elements of learning in a module that need revisiting? Take a look at this section on mapping the curriculum for documents to help consider these questions.
  • What are the subskills that students need to develop to be successful? Take a look at our sub skills in D&T page. 
  • What strategies and targeted activities can be used to develop retrieval skills?
  • How can teacher questioning be used to develop elaboration skills? How can students develop their own questioning skills to help them make connections between learning?
  • How can learning be planned so interleaving takes place both across a module as well as across a range of modules?
  • How will students record learning? How can learning review time be built into modules of work?
  • What concrete examples can the teacher use to bring learning alive? How can students collect their own examples?


Return to the Distributed Strategies in D&T page to see all resources

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