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Comparing spaced repetition algorithms for digital flashcards
conference contributionposted on 18.04.2019, 00:00 by Stephen ColbranStephen Colbran, Wayne JonesWayne Jones, John MilburnJohn Milburn
This study compares two digital flashcard spaced repetition algorithms to evaluate whether the SuperMemo 2 (SM2) algorithm produces better outcomes for law student learning as measured by assessment results than the older Leitner algorithm. Academic staff prepared hundreds of digital flashcards related to an undergraduate law unit – Introduction to law. Undergraduate law students (n=47) were randomly assigned flashcards using two variations of a software program FlashCram, one version of which used a simple Leitner algorithm, another version the SM2 algorithm for spaced repetition. Students completed three practical assignments, two worth 10%, one worth 20%. and a theoretical examination worth 60% of their final grade. The results confirmed SuperMemo 2 to be a superior algorithm over Leitner with respect to the theoretical examination. There was no significant difference between the algorithms for practical assessment that was skills based, not dependent on memory and not subject to any significant time pressure. The results suggest that the usefulness of spaced repetition digital flashcard systems for legal studies may depend upon the nature of the assessment task.