Metacognition and Learning

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 175–195 | Cite as

Metacognition and the spacing effect: the role of repetition, feedback, and instruction on judgments of learning for massed and spaced rehearsal



Although memory performance benefits from the spacing of information at encoding, judgments of learning (JOLs) are often not sensitive to the benefits of spacing. The present research examines how practice, feedback, and instruction influence JOLs for spaced and massed items. In Experiment 1, in which JOLs were made after the presentation of each item and participants were given multiple study-test cycles, JOLs were strongly influenced by the repetition of the items, but there was little difference in JOLs for massed versus spaced items. A similar effect was shown in Experiments 2 and 3, in which participants scored their own recall performance and were given feedback, although participants did learn to assign higher JOLs to spaced items with task experience. In Experiment 4, after participants were given direct instruction about the benefits of spacing, they showed a greater difference for JOLs of spaced vs massed items, but their JOLs still underestimated their recall for spaced items. Although spacing effects are very robust and have important implications for memory and education, people often underestimate the benefits of spaced repetition when learning, possibly due to the reliance on processing fluency during study and attending to repetition, and not taking into account the beneficial aspects of study schedule.


Metamemory Memory Spacing effects Judgments of learning 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyRice UniversityHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of California, Los AngelesLos AngelesUSA
  3. 3.The Center for Vital LongevityUniversity of TexasDallasUSA

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