Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Spacing out teacher training over time


     I recently came across a presentation on police training by Lon Bartel of VirTra, a law enforcement and military training company. In this presentation Bartel emphasized the SCORE approach to training. 

      What caught my attention was the reinforcement of the idea of spreading out challenging, realistic, and varying training situations over time, as opposed to mere classroom-heavy learning blocked over a few days. 

       Effective teacher training needs to occur regularly over a long period of time, and involve  unpredictable or imperfectly controlled situations and scenarios. 

       Bartel's ideas support the use of live teaching labs and scenarios for teacher training. 

      Here's a brief summary of Bartel's main points, with emphasis on the spacing of practice. 
      (available on line: https://www.policemag.com/download?id=655290&dl=1


Space out practice

·        Space out practice

By ‘spacing’ training activities out over time, (1-2 hours every other day, or at least once per week versus 8-hour marathon cramming sessions) you will be able to learn more information and retain it longer

 Massed practice refers to a style of practice where an individual engages in a large amount of training in a single, uninterrupted session. The goal of massed practice is to improve the skill or behavior through intensive repetition, with the assumption that the more you practice in one session, the better you will get.

 On the other hand, spaced practice refers to a style of practice where an individual engages in smaller amounts of training, spaced out over time. In this method, there are breaks between practice sessions, and the goal is to retain and reinforce the learned skill or behavior over a longer period. The idea behind spaced practice is that by spacing out the training sessions, the brain has time to consolidate and reinforce the newly acquired information, leading to better retention and transfer to new situations. In general, spaced practice has been shown to be more effective than massed practice in terms of long-term retention and transfer to new situations, although the optimal spacing between sessions can vary depending on the task and the individual.

Spacing helps when learning a skill because it allows the learner to spread out their study and practice over a longer period of time, instead of trying to learn everything in a single session. This approach has been shown to be more effective than massed practice, where all the study and practice is done in a single session. 

              There are several reasons why spacing is beneficial when learning a skill:

 Improved retention: Spacing helps to promote long-term memory retention by allowing the learner to revisit the material at spaced intervals, which helps to strengthen the neural connections in the brain.

Enhanced understanding: By revisiting the material over time, the learner can build a deeper understanding of the skill and identify areas where they may need further improvement.

Avoidance of overloading: Spacing helps to avoid cognitive overload by breaking down the learning into smaller, manageable chunks, which can make the learning process less overwhelming and more effective.

Better transfer: Spacing also helps to promote transfer of learning, as it allows the learner to apply what they have learned to real-world situations and contexts, which can help to consolidate their understanding of the skill. Overall, spacing is an effective approach to learning skills as it allows the learner to take a more gradual and structured approach, which can help to promote better retention, understanding, and transfer.

·        Challenge must exist

               -If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you

·        Obstacles help us deal with error in the environment

               -Practice must occur in less-than-perfect environments

·        Randomize the skills

               -A variety of potential scenarios rather than predictable, specific situations

               -Practice looks worse but performance is better

·        Exceptions exist with the very new or if prior to a precise performance


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