Forthcoming in Zeitschrift für Psychologie/Journal of Psychology:
- Küpper-Tetzel, C. E. (forthcoming). Strong effects on weak theoretical grounds: Understanding the distributed practice effect.
The distributed practice effect is one of the most researched memory effects in cognitive psychology. Beneficial distributed practice effects for long-term retention have been demonstrated in different domains and they are remarkably large
in size, too. However, despite strong effects, this research field still lacks a unified theory offering explanations for a wide range of findings. I review empirical studies on the distributed practice effect that have immediate relevance for educational settings. Against the backdrop of this review, I discuss theory candidates and ways of specifying them for empirical tests using nonstandard statistical methods. I conclude that future studies will have to fine-tune theories to strengthen the significance of empirical results and to allow for better recommendations to educators. This promises to increase the enthusiasm to systematically implement distributed practice in instruction routines and bridge psychological research and educational practice.