Test enhanced learning has been studied with word lists and pictures over the years, but none prior to this study focused on the use of prose materials and recall tests. The general concept of the experiment was to examine the testing effect in an educational setting, and that multiple tests would be more effective in long-term memorization than would the restudy methods used in many universities and colleges. The experiment consisted of two experiment designs, and separate results. The findings are surprisingly extraordinary.
Experiment one was a 2 X 3 design focusing on the responses of 120 undergraduate students between the ages of 18 -24 years of age. The independent variables were the concept of restudy and retesting. The dependent variables were the two prose passages that were used by each group. The experiment was broken down into Phase 1 and Phase 2, with two sessions during each phase, and final retention intervals of 5 minutes, 2 days, and 1 week. The Phase 1 sessions were broken down into four 7 minute periods to study a new passage, take a recall test, or restudy a previous passage, with 2 to 5 minute periods of solving multiplication problems. Phase 2 was the final retention intervals where the test was administered again after 5 minutes, 2 days, and 1 week. Instruction for Phase 1 and Phase 2 tests were identical, and a final test was given after the 1 week interval test.
Experiment two was set up with a 3X2 design. Three control groups for two independent and 2 dependent variables. The independent variables were the same as experiment 1, study and testing. The dependent variables were the same as well, using the exact prose material from Experiment one. The control groups were subjects studied the passage on 4 separate occasions, the subjects studied the passage on three separate occasions and took a test on the fourth occasion. The last group was allowed to study the passage one time and was given a test on the remaining three occasions. Again, each test was only 10 minutes long for each interval with a final given at the end after the retention intervals.
Results of the two experiments were exactly the same. Both experiments showed that study and restudy helps with the short-term memory in regard to testing. However, repeated testing worked with the long-term memory and allowed the student to retain the information for longer periods of time. Based on this information, the thesis statement that the test – effect will increase the retention of studied material proves positive and should be reconsidered by institutes of higher learning.
In these experiments, there is a major flaw that is unaccounted for and not considered. The flaw is that the experiment does not take into consideration the learning style of the student. Learning styles are as different as each individual. Some people learn with music, others learn visually, while others need to hear the information to retain it. It seems the study habits and learning styles of the students could play a role in the retention level of information in both the study and testing variables. Without considering the learning styles, the experiment only partially explains the test-effect, and further research must be conducted to include the learning styles of the subjects.
Roediger, H.L. & Karpicke, J.D. (2006). Test-enhanced learning: Taking memory tests improves long term memory. Psychological Science. 17(3). 249-255.