Morse code and the discovery of distributed practice

13 Jun

The more time you spend learning something the more you will remember. This observation, called the total time hypothesis, is not surprising. What surprised many researches was that memory also depended on how that practice is distributed.

During World War II, the military employed psychologist and educational innovator Fred Keller to improve the effectiveness of Morse code training. The demands of the war dramatically increased the need for Morse code operators; discovering an effective training regimen affected how quickly an operator could be put in the field. Thus, code training was not an academic exercise but something that had military consequences.

Keller compared two groups of trainees, one that trained for seven hours a day for five weeks and another that trained for four hours a day for eight weeks. Even though the hours of study were almost the same the group who practiced only four hours a day distributed over a longer period of time achieved a greater level of proficiency with the code.

Here is a short video on the history of the Morse code:

 

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