# Interleaving area problems in the 4th grade classroom: What is the role of context and practice?

- Rachael Todaro,
*Kent State University*
- Bradley Morris,
*Kent State University*

## Abstract

Typical mathematics instruction involves blocked practice across a
set of conceptually similar problems. Interleaving, or practice across a set of
conceptually dissimilar problems, improves learning and transfer by repeatedly
reloading information and increasing discrimination of problem features.
Similarly, comparing problems across different contexts highlights relevant and
irrelevant knowledge. Our experiment is the first to investigate the relative
effects of interleaving geometry problems and interleaving contexts. Thirty-three
fourth-grade students received the same practice problems but were randomly
assigned to one of three conditions: interleaved by math skill, interleaved by
context, and interleaved by math skill and by context (i.e., hyper-interleaved).
Afterward, each participant was exposed to tests assessing declarative and
procedural knowledge. The results suggest that interleaving math skill within and
between varying contexts may enhance the acquisition of mathematical procedures.

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