The Approach

Why it Works

The Simple Solutions Approach combines three powerful, research-based strategies:

retrieval practice

Retrieval Practice

When students complete a Simple Solutions lesson, they respond to a variety of items, covering material they’re familiar with. They repeatedly retrieve information from memory, and the mental effort it takes to do this strengthens their neural pathways, making it easier to recall the information in the future. Retrieval practice allows students to truly master concepts, retain what they’ve learned, and apply their learning to other situations.

Spacing

With Simple Solutions, the retrieval practice is spread out over time. Students systematically revisit and recall skills and concepts—in short sessions throughout the school year and over the summer. This approach is the opposite of massed practice, or “cramming.” When students cram, they may learn the material, but it resides in short-term memory and is quickly forgotten. On the other hand, students who use spacing, benefit from long-term retention. They learn the material more deeply and are better able to transfer their learning, that is, apply it to new situations.

Interleaving

Each Simple Solutions lesson provides a variety of questions or problems. Students must assess and then decide how they will address each problem instead of just using the same approach for the whole page. This is especially important in mathematics. For example, is the item asking for a sum or a quotient? Does it require a measurement, an algorithm, or a combination of strategies? No two items on the page are the same, but they all revisit material that has already been taught. Traditional textbooks and other educational materials rely on massed (blocked) practice. They focus on single concepts or a set of ideas, then move away once the material has been “mastered.” As time goes on, however, students forget or develop learning gaps and must be retaught. This cycle can go on for years. Yet, cognitive scientists know, and research has shown, that students learn more deeply and retain information longer through retrieval, spacing, and interleaving.

Minutes a Day

By adding just minutes a day of this kind of practice, memory is strengthened and forgetting diminishes. This is how the Simple Solutions Approach increases academic achievement, builds student confidence, and raises standardized test scores. READ MORE ABOUT RETREIVAL, SPACING, AND INTERLEAVING