Is Expanded Retrieval Practice a Superior Form of Spaced Retrieval? A Critical Review of the Extant Literature
Consider the following scenario: You are in the age range of most of thecontributors to this volume and are at a neighborhood party. You areintroduced to a person named Mark Finglestein. What would be the best procedure to learn this person’s name so you are not embarrassed in future chance encounters in the neighborhood? One procedure would be to simply rehearse the name over and over again via massed practice. Of course, as students of learning and memory, we all know that this procedure is doomed to failure. Another procedure would be to space one’s retrieval such that after every minute or so one attempts to retrieve the name Mark Finglestein. Because of the well-known benefits of spaced practice, this procedure is much more likely to succeed. A third procedure would be to gradually expand the intervals between the retrieval attempts. For example, you may first retrieve the name after 15 seconds, then 45 seconds, and then 2 minutes. This procedure takes advantage of the benefits of spacing but also maintains relatively high levels of retrieval success. There is evidence suggesting that this procedure may indeed be better than the simple spaced retrieval. In fact, the benefits of expanded retrieval have been at the center of considerable work in both educational and clinical settings.