Blocked versus Interleaved Practice with Multiple Representations in an Intelligent Tutoring System for Fractions

Martina A. Rau, Vincent Aleven, Nikol Rummel

Previous research demonstrates that multiple representations can enhance students’ learning. However, learning with multiple representations is hard. Students need to acquire representational fluency with each of the representations and they need to be able to make connections between the representations. It is yet unclear how to balance these two aspects of learning with multiple representations. In the present study, we focus on a key aspect of this question, namely the temporal sequencing of representations when students work with multiple representations one-at-a-time. Specifically, we investigated the effects of blocking versus interleaving multiple representations of fractions in an intelligent tutoring system. We conducted an in vivo experiment with 296 5th- and 6th-grade students. The results show an advantage for blocking representations and for moving from a blocked to an interleaved sequence. This effect is especially pronounced for students with low prior knowledge.

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