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What Works Clearinghouse


This guide includes a set of concrete actions relating to the use of instructional and study time that are applicable to subjects that demand a great deal of content learning, including social studies, science, and mathematics. The guide was developed with some of the most important principles to emerge from research on learning and memory in mind.


 Recommendation Level of Evidence
1. Space learning over time. Arrange to review key elements of course content after a delay of several weeks to several months after initial presentation. Source PDF (994 KB) Moderate
2. Interleave worked example solutions with problem-solving exercises. Have students alternate between reading already worked solutions and trying to solve problems on their own. Source PDF (994 KB) Moderate
3. Combine graphics with verbal descriptions. Combine graphical presentations (e.g., graphs, figures) that illustrate key processes and procedures with verbal descriptions. Source PDF (994 KB) Moderate
4. Connect and integrate abstract and concrete representations of concepts. Connect and integrate abstract representations of a concept with concrete representations of the same concept. Source PDF (994 KB) Moderate
5. Use quizzing to promote learning. Use quizzing with active retrieval of information at all phases of the learning process to exploit the ability of retrieval directly to facilitate long-lasting memory traces. Source PDF (994 KB)
5a. Use pre-questions to introduce a new topic. Source PDF (994 KB) Minimal
5b. Use quizzes to re-expose students to key content. Source PDF (994 KB) Strong
6. Help students allocate study time efficiently. Assist students in identifying what material they know well, and what needs further study, by teaching children how to judge what they have learned. Source PDF (994 KB)
6a. Teach students how to use delayed judgments of learning to identify content that needs further study. Source PDF (994 KB) Minimal
6b. Use tests and quizzes to identify content that needs to be learned. Source PDF (994 KB) Minimal
7. Ask deep explanatory questions. Use instructional prompts that encourage students to pose and answer “deep-level” questions on course material. These questions enable students to respond with explanations and supports deep understanding of taught material. Source PDF (994 KB) Strong
This practice guide was prepared for the WWC by Optimal Solutions Group under contract