, Volume 39, Issue 5, pp 750-763
Date: 07 Jan 2011

Spacing enhances the learning of natural concepts: an investigation of mechanisms, metacognition, and aging


In two experiments, we examined spacing effects on the learning of bird families and metacognitive assessments of such learning. Results revealed that spacing enhanced learning beyond massed study. These effects were increased by presenting birds in pairs so as to highlight differences among families during study (Experiment 1). Self-allocated study time provided evidence that more attention was paid during spaced than during massed study and resulted in no age differences in learning (Experiment 2). Metacognitive measures revealed sensitivity to the processing advantage of spaced study and to differences in classification difficulty across categories. No difference occurred in monitoring accuracy for young versus older adults. These findings provide evidence for discrimination- and attention-based accounts of the spacing effect in natural concept learning.