The impact of breaks on forgetting when performing a repetitive task

Shlomo Globerson, Nissan Levin, Avraham Shtub

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Commonly used learning curve models assume that a repetitive task is performed continuously, disregarding the existence of possible break periods between consecutive repetitions. Since these breaks generate forgetting, actual performance will be inferior to the performance forecasted by typical learning curve models. This paper describes and analyzes a laboratory experiment designed to investigate the nature of forgetting in a working environment. The results of the experiment indicate that the degree of forgetting is a function of the break length and the level of experience gained prior to the break. The study investigated the impact of breaks within a range of one to eighty two days. The performance deterioration due to the breaks web just a few percentage points for a single day break and up to 70 percentage points for the longest breaks. A power curve was identified as a proper forgetting model to depict the relationship between break length, performance time before the break and the degree of forgetting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)376-381
Number of pages6
JournalIIE Transactions (Institute of Industrial Engineers)
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1989


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