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Test-enhanced learning: taking memory tests improves long-term retention.

Psychological Science

Time Factors, psychology, Students, physiology, Retention (Psychology), Practice (Psychology), statistics & numerical data, Neuropsychological Tests, Mental Recall, Memory, Learning, Humans, methods, Educational Measurement

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      Abstract

      Taking a memory test not only assesses what one knows, but also enhances later retention, a phenomenon known as the testing effect. We studied this effect with educationally relevant materials and investigated whether testing facilitates learning only because tests offer an opportunity to restudy material. In two experiments, students studied prose passages and took one or three immediate free-recall tests, without feedback, or restudied the material the same number of times as the students who received tests. Students then took a final retention test 5 min, 2 days, or 1 week later. When the final test was given after 5 min, repeated studying improved recall relative to repeated testing. However, on the delayed tests, prior testing produced substantially greater retention than studying, even though repeated studying increased students' confidence in their ability to remember the material. Testing is a powerful means of improving learning, not just assessing it.

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      Most cited references 26

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      Levels of processing versus transfer appropriate processing

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        Implicit memory. Retention without remembering.

         H L Roediger (1990)
        Explicit measures of human memory, such as recall or recognition, reflect conscious recollection of the past. Implicit tests of retention measure transfer (or priming) from past experience on tasks that do not require conscious recollection of recent experiences for their performance. The article reviews research on the relation between explicit and implicit memory. The evidence points to substantial differences between standard explicit and implicit tests, because many variables create dissociations between these tests. For example, although pictures are remembered better than words on explicit tests, words produce more priming than do pictures on several implicit tests. These dissociations may implicate different memory systems that subserve distinct memorial functions, but the present argument is that many dissociations can be understood by appealing to general principles that apply to both explicit and implicit tests. Phenomena studied under the rubric of implicit memory may have important implications in many other fields, including social cognition, problem solving, and cognitive development.
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          The influence of retrieval on retention

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            Author and article information

            Journal
            10.1111/j.1467-9280.2006.01693.x
            16507066

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