One study in Journal of Educational Psychology · November 2018 "Does Interleaved Practice Enhance Foreign Language Learning? The Effects of Training Schedule on Spanish Verb Conjugation Skills" shows there is good reason to interleave your study not to do blocks of study.
Journal of Educational Psychology · November 2018 wrote:Abstract
Do the cognitive benefits of interleaving—the method of alternating between two or more skills or concepts during training—extend to foreign language learning? In four experiments, we investigated the efficacy of interleaved vs. conventional blocked practice for teaching adult learners to conjugate Spanish verbs in the preterite and imperfect past tenses. In the first two experiments, training occurred during a single session and interleaving between tenses began during the presentation of introductory content (Experiment 1) or during randomly-ordered verb conjugation practice trials at the end of the training session (Experiment 2). This yielded, respectively, numerically higher performance in the blocked group and equivalent performance in the interleaved and blocked groups on a two-day delayed test. In Experiments 3 and 4, the amount of training was increased across two weekly sessions in which the blocked group trained on one tense per session and the interleaved group trained on both tenses per session, with random interleaving occurring during verb conjugation practice trials. Interleaving yielded substantially better performance on a one-week delayed test. Thus, although interleaving did not confer an advantage over blocking under two different single-session training schedules, it improved learning when used to practice conjugating verbs across multiple training sessions. These results constitute the first demonstration of an interleaving effect for foreign language learning.
With interleaving, students alternate between a set of to-be-learned skills during training.
https://www.learningscientists.org/blog/2017/7/13-1 wrote:Fergus used the example of learning how to give directions in German to explain his jumbling technique to us. At first, you learn how to give the directions in a certain order. For example, you might learn how to say turn right, then learn how to say turn left, and then learn how to say go straight. However, when you’re actually using these phrases, you want to be able to recall them in different orders. So during practice, you should jumble up the order of the German directions. This will make it easier to use them later on.
Studies show that information revised via interleaving will be retained for longer (in some cases years) than blocked revision of information.
The effects of interleaving are distinct from those of spacing, which is the practice of having a temporal gap between learning sessions. Specifically, even though spacing can facilitate learning, and even though spacing often occurs as a result of interleaving, the effects of spacing alone do not explain all the benefits of interleaving.
Interleaving guidelines: (Paraphrased from https://effectiviology.com/interleaving/)
- Use logical criteria for interleaving. E.g. If you are learning vocabulary about the household, use a grammar section you need to study to create sentences with those words.
- Avoid interleaving items that are too similar.
- Avoid interleaving items that are too different.
- Decide what pattern to interleave. For example Random or Systematic. For example, in the case of vocabulary words, you can decide to simply randomly interleave words from different categories, or you might decide to systematically interleave them so that words from a certain category are always followed by words from a specific different category.
Related to this 3 hour block of study is the question of "where to study". Scientists have studied the effect of physical location on memory retention also. By studying at the same place, in the same environment all the time, your brain gets attached to it, and you buckle down and study, you're all set for success right? Maybe not. There is actually a risk that your brain would get itself stuck in that space and not be able to recall outside that location. You've associated the memory with the study location, and when you are not at that location, you can't remember!
So getting outside and doing some shadowing as Prof. A recommended, or reading on a bus, or listening while driving can help avoid this situational lock in.