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ERIC Number: ED581430
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2017-Mar
Pages: 63
Abstractor: ERIC
Spaced Learning: The Design, Feasibility and Optimisation of SMART Spaces. Evaluation Report and Executive Summary
O'Hare, Liam; Stark, Patrick; McGuinness, Carol; Biggart, Andy; Thurston, Allen
Education Endowment Foundation
This report describes the development and pilot evaluation of SMART Spaces. This programme aims to boost GCSE science outcomes by applying the principle that information is more easily learnt when it is repeated multiple times, with time passing between the repetitions. This approach is known as "spaced learning" and is contrasted with a "massed learning" approach, where content is learnt all at once with no spacing. The development of the programme was led by a team from the Hallam Teaching School Alliance (HTSA). SMART Spaces prepares Year 9 and 10 students for GCSE examinations at the end of Year 10. Teachers were trained to deliver three lessons focused on chemistry, physics, and biology curriculum content, which were repeated over three consecutive days. Pupils did an unrelated physical activity in the spaces between intensive repetitions of science content. Teachers received one day of training and were provided with PowerPoint slides to deliver during the lessons. The Centre for Evidence and Social Innovation (CESI) at Queen's University Belfast (QUB) worked with HTSA to develop SMART Spaces, test its feasibility, and test three different approaches to arranging the spaced learning across the three days (see Table 1). Key conclusions are as follows: (1) The spaced learning principle is based on relatively strong evidence and this pilot suggests that SMART Spaces has evidence of promise; (2) This pilot study demonstrated that SMART Spaces can feasibly be delivered in English schools. Both teachers and pupils appeared to enjoy and engage with the programme; (3) Teachers generally reported that they delivered SMART Spaces lessons as prescribed and did not make major alterations; (4) The small randomised controlled trial (RCT) provided some preliminary evidence that the most promising approach to spaced learning combines the use of both ten-minute and 24-hour spaces between curriculum content. However, this was a small study and a larger trial is needed to better understand the impact of the programme; and (5) SMART Spaces is ready for a larger RCT to evaluate its impact on GCSE attainment. The evaluation team suggest an efficacy trial at the next stage with further exploration of feasibility using both qualitative and quantitative measures (particularly the engagement questionnaire included in this study, which can help monitor this significantly related implementation factor). A key unanswered question at this point is the cumulative effect of SMART Spaces if used throughout the school year.
Education Endowment Foundation. 9th Floor Millbank Tower, Millbank, London, SW1P 4QP, UK. Tel: +44-207-802-1676; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Tests/Questionnaires
Education Level: Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Wellcome Trust (United Kingdom)
Authoring Institution: Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) (United Kingdom); Queen's University Belfast (United Kingdom)
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom (England)