Interleaving is a teaching method that involves presenting information in a mixed rather than a blocked format. Instead of presenting all of the information on a single topic at once, the material is interleaved with information on other topics. This is a useful technique for tutors to use in order to help their students better retain and understand the material.
Conventional teachers tend to teach in ‘blocks’. For example, in Maths, a teacher may set exercises consisting of 50 questions that are very similar. Whilst repetition is vital, research suggests that a more effective strategy is mixing the practice of one topic with other different, but related topics. For example, alternating questions from 2 or 3 different Maths topics.
Interleaving enhances learning because learning is deeper and more durable when it is effortful. By forcing the student to switch to a different topic, they have to think harder and more critically when they comeback to the first topic, as opposed to just acting on ‘autopilot’.
A side-effect of this is that students will likely get more questions wrong. However, this is actually beneficial for their learning, because when they see the correct answer they will understand the strategy behind it better over time.
Mix up the order in which you present information: Instead of presenting all of the information on a single topic at once, interleave that information with information on other topics. For example, if you are teaching math, you might cover a few problems on one topic, then switch to a different topic, and then switch back to the original topic.
Interleaving can be challenging for students at first, as they are required to switch between different topics and recall information from memory. Be patient and supportive as your students adjust to this new way of learning, and provide extra support and encouragement as needed.