Student Responses to Spaced Practice in Two Large Gateway Chemistry Courses





Citation of Original Publication

Carpenter, Tara S., and Linda C. Hodges. “Student Responses to Spaced Practice in Two Large Gateway Chemistry Courses.” Journal of Chemical Education, January 11, 2024.


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Spaced practice is a recognized effective study approach that fosters mastery of learning and retention of information. In this paper, we share one instructor’s experience in introducing a spaced practice intervention in a large general chemistry course and in encouraging students to continue the strategy in the next semester organic chemistry course. The curricular implementation spanned two years during the COVID pandemic and encompassed the instructors’ ongoing responsive efforts to enhance students’ success. Student perspectives of the perceived value and their use of spaced practice varied with the instructor’s conditions of the implementation. Offering spaced practice midway in a semester as an optional approach to homework garnered a positive student response and outcomes. However, moving to a required format for spaced practice in a subsequent semester resulted in much more mixed student feedback and outcomes. The instructor also encouraged and guided students in utilizing the strategy in the following organic chemistry course, and although over 70% of students planned to use it, only about a third actually persisted in the practice. When offering students effective study approaches through course design, instructors also have the challenge and opportunity to cultivate students’ intrinsic motivation and self-regulation, skills that enhance their success more broadly. Instructors need to consider investing time in promoting and demonstrating the impact of the method on students’ learning, nudging and encouraging students to persevere, and demonstrating metacognitive approaches to learning throughout the course to help students realize its rewards.