PSY10004 Psychology

PSY10004 Psychology

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PSY10004 Psychology

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PSY10004 Psychology

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Course Code: PSY10004
University: Swinburne University Of Technology is not sponsored or endorsed by this college or university

Country: Australia

Describe the Psychology For Research Experience Program. 

Number of involved participants: 212
Number of feedback forms received in each task; Part 1: 184
Participants in the study described their Gender as follows:


Number of Participants(Percentage)


63 (34%)


117 (64%)

Unreported gender

4 (2%)



The participant’s age was between 18-56 years. The mean age was 26.56 and standard deviation was 7.60.
The study was given a go ahead by the Swinburne University Human Research Ethics Committee (SUHREC) and 212 participants, who were psychology students voluntarily enrolled to the program through the Swinburne Psychology Research Experience Program. There was no compensation but the students enrolled in exchange for the course credit. In addition, the students were informed that if they could withdraw anytime from the study without penalty.
This study, used a website called Qualtrics, where each volunteer would log in at the specified time. The participants would then fill in details plus do their tasks and submit them online through the same platform.
Materials used for this study included: Study materials, test materials, specific instructions to massed practice condition and specific instructions to distributive conditions and finally demographic questions.
Study materials used was a chapter from a book titled; “Research in Psychology”. All Students, regardless of condition were to read chapter 2 of the book from page 30-60. This material was selected because it was relevant to the students since they were psychology students. The topic, Research in psychology was also relevant because it gave the students and background information of research methods in a field they were involved in. The study material was 30 pages and this was enough and suitable amount of material that could be studied and comprehended in four hours.
Test materials included a twenty item questions (attached in the appendix) Students were expected to fill in the gap with the correct answer. The questions were answered by all students regardless of the condition. The items (questions) were derived from the study materials. Since they were fill in the gap questions, the ability to answer them depended on the ability of the students to remember what they had studied from the study materials. These type of questions were preferred to multiple choice questions because unlike multiple choice questions that may give leeway to the students guessing the response, fill in the blank questions are fully dependent on students ability to recall what they read. This was in line with the objective of this study.
Specific instructions to both the students in mass and distributive study involved details on how they would study and do the tests. Instruction to the mass study students was that they were supposed to study the content provided in four hours continuous in one day with no interruptions. The distributive study group were on the other hand supposed to spend two hours continuously studying the content ach day for two days. In the study time, the students were not supposed to have any breaks or interruptions aside washrooms and refreshments. These instructions were formulated based on the research objectives and on the quantity and content of the study material.
Demographic questions were open ended and required each individual to fill in their age and gender. Age was important because from theory, (Wray, 1973), argues that Learning process is affected with age and that the older you grow the less the ability to learn. Comparisons within same age or different age was not an objective in this study but it was important. The knowledge of whether the students were male or female was important because this would influence to some extent the way they would study and answer the questions (Balhara, Gauba & Deshpande, 2011). For example, ladies tend to be distracted often and they also tend to have more washroom breaks than Men.
Participants read the consent information statement after which they agreed to participate in the study by clicking “continue”. Participants were then later randomly assigned a study strategy condition. Half of them received the massed practice condition strategy while the other half received the distributed practice condition.
Those on the massed strategy studied a given material for four hours in one day continuous without breaks. The distributive type, studied the same material for four hours also but in two days, studying two hours continuously each day. This marked part 1 of the study and also included presentation of relevant instructions and answering demographic questions.
In part 2, the two groups then were randomly assigned a specific strategy which involved answering of fill the blank questions based on the study material in part 1. In one group, the students logged in the website 24 hours after they studied the material in part 1. The other half logged in 2 weeks after study part 1 and they did the questions in Part 2 study. All students completed the same type of 20 item fill-in-the-blank in 20 minutes. The questions were then marked as either right or wrong. 
The results of this study was based on the number of right or wrong responses participants got from the 20 item fill in the blank questions. For easy analysis and discussions the results were expressed as a mean of the correct responses given by each category of participants which included:

Massed practice with 1 day test delay
Massed practice with 2 weeks delay
Distributive practice with 1 day delay
Distributive Practice with 2weeks delay.

Table 1.1 below represents the mean and standard deviation of the correct responses given in the 4 scenarios.


1 day






















































From the means and standard deviation, the relative standard deviation (RSD) can be calculate by dividing the standard deviation with the mean. The RSD can be used in making comparisons and the following graphs were derived:
The Overall performance of Massed study against distributive study; in this case the means are used because the number of participants is equal. 
From the results we can generally say that participants who studied using the distributive study performed well that those who used the massed study. This is evident from the second graph. This occurrence which affirms the hypothesis, can be attributed to the fact that in distributive learning, the participants divides the content to be read into small manageable sections that can be read and comprehended easily unlike in massed practice where the content per given session is more and this results to faster reading and cramming. Also in distributive, the participants reads the 1st section, then in the one day break there are able to consolidate what they learnt and this makes the knowledge to be stored in the long term memory.
From the first graph, we can see that the performance of massed and distributive in 1 day of the test is almost similar. This can be attributed that in distributive the content studied is still memorable within one day after end of learning session. In massed learning the participants, who mostly cram the content can be able to retain and remember what they learned at least one day ago.
Participant who did the distributive study and had their test two weeks after studying performed better than those who did the test one day after the study. With this result it can be thought that the distributive study results in learning of content that remains in memory for a long time and therefore even after two weeks the participants can still recall what they learned.
It is however unexpected from the results that the students who performed well in all the scenarios are those who took part In the massed study and did their test two weeks after the study. This results is different compared to what was expected from the hypothesis. It can however be assumed that the participants who took part in the massed learning and knew they would do the tests in two weeks’ time, resulted to reading and understanding the content unlike cramming, which is normally done in the cases where the test is to be done immediately.
From the results and discussion of this study, it can be concluded that;
Distributive learning is important in the cases where the content being studied needs to be retained in memory for a long time. Distributive learning is important in solving practical application problems that require the use of the knowledge learned. Most institutions should embrace these form of learning in order to educate and bring up students who do not only pass exams but also solve problems in the society.
Massed learning, also known as cramming is useful in learning that requires that the content not to be retained for a long time. It is only important during the passing of exams and should not be encouraged in learning institutions. The human brain needs time to consolidate learned knowledge from short term to long term and this cannot be done in massed learning. 
Massed and distributive learning are two important aspects of learning that are used by many students in the learning process. Each of the learning process can be argued of its advantages and disadvantages and the effects of each of this learning process on the learning outcome of the students is of importance. In this study, the aim was to compare the two learning processes and the hypothesis was that distributive learning is superior to massed learning. Two groups of participants took part in this study and they were each given instructions where one group was to study a give content in four continuous hours in one day. The other was to study the same content in four hours but spread into 2 days. The participants then did a test study where they answered 20 item fill in the blank question either 1 day after study or 2weeks. In the results it was noted that there was no major difference in performance in distributive learning test one day after the study or 2weeks after the study. It was however notably noted that the students who performed better are the ones who took part in massed study and did the test two weeks after the study. In conclusion, it was noted that distributive study is superior to masses study and should be adopted by most institutions.   
Cepeda , N.J. , Coburn, N.,Rohrer,D.,J.T.,Mozer, M.C and Pashler, H.(2009).Optimizing distributed practice: theoretical analysis and practical implication.
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Dempster,F.N.(1989).Spacing effects and their implications for theory and practice. Educational Psychology Review,1 ,309-330
English, M., & Visser, T. (2013). Exploring the repetition paradox: The effects of learning context and massed repetition on memory. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 21(4), 1026-1032.
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Garrett, H. (1940). Variability in learning under massed and spaced practice. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 26(6), 547-567. 
Greeno, J. (1964). Paired-associate learning with massed and distributed repetitions of items. Journal of Experimental Psychology, 67(3), 286-295. 
Jucks, R., & Hillbrink, A. (2017). Perspective on Research and Teaching in Psychology: Enrichment or Burden?. Psychology Learning & Teaching, 147572571770520. 
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Leech, N., & Onwuegbuzie, A. (2007). An array of qualitative data analysis tools: A call for data analysis triangulation. School Psychology Quarterly, 22(4), 557-584. 
Miles, S. (2014). Spaced vs. massed distribution instruction for L2 grammar learning. System, 42, 412-428. 
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Murphree, T .R. (1971). Effects of massed and distributed practice upon motor leaenig and retention of a novel gross motor task
No authorship indicated. (1949). Case reports in clinical psychology. Journal of Consulting Psychology, 13(6), 450-450.
Rogers, J. (2015). Learning Second Language Syntax Under Massed and Distributed Conditions. TESOL Quarterly, 49(4), 857-866.
Rohrer, D., & Taylor, K. (2006). The effects of overlearning and distributed practice on the retention of mathematics knowledge. Applied Cognitive Psychology,20,1209-1224
Ruch, T. (1928). Factors influencing the relative economy of massed and distributed practice in learning. Psychological Review, 35(1), 19-45.

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