IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


SMART Spaces evaluation

Improving revision skills in chemistry and raising GCSE science grades through spaced learning.

Project lead: Professor Jeremy Hodgen

Science Teacher and Pupil, Kirsten Holst © University College London

The SMART Spaces project aims to improve attainment in the chemistry elements of science through spaced learning.

The project is evaluated by a team at IOE. The SMART Spaces intervention is designed and delivered by Queen's University Belfast and Hallam Teaching Schools Alliance, and funded by the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF).

The project will report in the Autumn of 2021.

Revision Efficacy Trial

The SMART Spaces revision model aims to help students revise shortly before taking their GCSE. The intervention to be trialled comprises periods of repeated revision of GCSE Chemistry content with short and long spaces in between.


This evaluation will consist of a two-arm randomised controlled trial testing the SMART Space Revision intervention against a 'business as usual' control, involving Year 11 students from around 130 schools.

This trial follows a promising evaluation of a pilot study, also funded by the EEF (O'Hare, Stark, McGuinness, Biggart & Thurston, 2017).

Teaching Pilot Trial

The SMART Spaces teaching model is an adapted version of the revision model that aims to support students' learning throughout the GCSE course in Year 10 and Year 11.

This evaluation will involve 15 schools and will focus on Year 10.

What is spaced learning?

The key theoretical principle of a spacing effect is that repetitions of a learning activity are more effective for learning when the repetitions are separated by a space in time rather than clustered together in a massed format.

Long and short spaces

It is likely that a long space between repetitions is even more effective for improving learning when it includes a period of sleep (Bell et al., 2014).

Short spaces (10 minutes) have also been found to be effective in the neuroscience literature (Fields, 2009) although less is known about the role a particular activity could play within a short space for improving learning.

The SMART Spaces intervention combines both long (24hrs including sleep) and short spaces (10 minutes) between repetitions of GCSE Chemistry material, following the results of the pilot study of the revision programme (O'Hare et al., 2017) which suggested this was the optimal approach.

Project team


And also:

  • Dr Haria Gandolfi (University of Cambridge)
  • Dr Helen Lawson
  • Katie Pepper

Queen's University Belfast (QUB) and Hallam Teaching Schools Alliance (HTSA)

SMART Spaces intervention is designed and delivered by QUB and HTSA

The development team is led by Dr Liam O'Hare (QUB) and Mr John Coats (HTSA). The intervention was developed Alastair Gittner (HTSA).

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