Additional Math Pages & Resources

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Research Agrees: Spaced Repetition Really Works!

It’s time for finals, MAP testing, SATs, ACTs, and exams of all kinds. According to Dr. Nate Kornell, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Williams College, writing in Psychology Today, “Cumulative exams take advantage of the spacing effect: if you have already studied something, studying it again after a delay can produce a huge amount of learning.” 

The spacing effect is just one component of the spiraling process so carefully built into every Excel Math lesson. Dr. Kornell continues, “If you want to learn something for life, spaced learning is absolutely critical. Research shows that the longer you want to remember something, the more you should space your learning.” Read the full article at

For this reason, Excel Math lessons gradually introduce new concepts, review them with Guided Practice, and refresh the concept over the next few weeks through Homework and Tests. 

This chart shows how concepts in Excel Math are introduced, reinforced, assessed, and reviewed. This unique spiraling system helps produce confident students, and as a result, test scores soar!
Excel Math's unique Spiraling Strategy
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Here’s a chart showing how one concept progresses through the school year: “Selecting the correct symbol for an equation.”
Excel Math Spiraling of One Concept over 75 Lessons
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Other topics taught during this sequence of lessons are not shown on the chart so you can easily see how this one concept is taught through spaced repetition. This concept, “Selecting the correct symbol for an equation,” appears 15 times during the 75 lessons (half year) shown.

In Excel Math, teachers gradually introduce concepts to students, use several models to help students explore a subject, then allow the students multiple chances to demonstrate mastery. One of those demonstrations involves testing.

The following graph illustrates Los Angeles Unified School District students from Parmelee Elementary. This school is located in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Los Angeles with a large minority population. In a multi year study students made dramatic gains in their Percentile ranking in year five, which was the first year implementation of Excel Math as a supplement to a district mandated core curriculum. This was the only change made in math instruction that year. Second grade classes experienced nearly 100% gains in math scores after one year of using Excel Math. 
Test Scores at Parmelee Elementary after one year using Excel Math
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According to Dr. Kornell, tests are not a bad thing. In fact, they can actually help us get facts into long-term memory and keep them there!

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