Tag Archives: retention

Low-Stakes Testing Improves Learning Retention, Retrieval

Henry L. Roediger III

Henry L. Roediger III

Few people enjoy having knowledge gaps exposed by formal testing, but those who receive this corrective feedback are more likely to retain information over time, according to studies by Washington University’s Henry L. Roediger III and Jeffrey D. Karpicke.

Mary Pyc

Mary Pyc

Their work confirms considerable previous research, and the idea that testing acts as a “meditator” to retrieve stored information, suggested by Kent State University’s Mary A. Pyc and Katherine A. Rawson.

Katherine A. Rawson

Katherine A. Rawson

Participants in Roediger and Karpicke’s investigation read texts and were tested by writing as much as they recalled of selected sections, rather than completing a multiple choice test or writing a critical thinking essay on the topic.
Volunteers recalled about 70 percent of the ideas they’d read, then re-read the
remaining passages that were not tested.

Jeffrey D. Karpicke

Jeffrey D. Karpicke

Delayed testing on both sets of readings occurred after two days or seven days, and volunteers were significantly more able to remember material on which they’d been tested.

Roediger and Karpicke noted that testing requires people to retrieve knowledge from memory, rather than merely acquire information as when reading or listening to a lecture.
The testing effect, also known as the retrieval practice effect, strengthens learning by embedding information in memory.

Karl Szpunar

Karl Szpunar

Most effective testing is integrated into learning with frequent, low-stakes checkpoints in contrast to less frequent, higher-stakes testing in the traditional British education system, they suggested.

Novall Y. Khan

Novall Y. Khan

Additionally, “interpolated testing” during learning activities enables people to sustain attention, reduce mind wandering, test anxiety, and perceived “cognitive load,” found Harvard’s Karl K. Szpunar, Novall Y. Khan, and Daniel L. Schacter.

Sarah L. Eddy

Sarah L. Eddy

The testing effect can benefit people who have previously under-performed relative to their peers, and are under-represented in courses, reported University of Washington’s Sarah L Eddy and Mary Pat Wenderoth with Sara E Brownell of Arizona State University.

Mary Pat Wenderoth

Mary Pat Wenderoth

They evaluated women’s academic achievement and participation in class discussions in more than 20 large university biology courses.

Sara E. Brownell

Sara E. Brownell

Unlike in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, 60% of the students were women.
However, they responded to only 40% of questions posed by the instructor during classes, much less than their representation in the course.
In addition, these women achieved lower exam scores than men with similar overall academic performance.

Daniel Schachter

Daniel Schachter

However, when the researchers introduced frequent, low-stakes testing – even without providing test results – women’s information retention and accessing significantly improved.

Frequent low-stakes testing integrated into learning activities leads to longer-term information comprehension, retention, and application – and this frequent exposure to a sometimes-feared or disliked activity can reduce avoidant reactions.

-*How effective do you find frequent tests to increase recall and retention of learning materials?

Related Posts:

Twitter:  @kathrynwelds
Google+
LinkedIn Groups Psychology in Human Resources (Organisational Psychology)
Facebook
Blog: – Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary

©Kathryn Welds

Want to Remember Something You Read? Skip the Underlining – Exploding Learning Technique Myths

-*Were you always told to underline key points in textbooks to reinforce recall for future examinations?

If so, you may have adopted a low-value practice.

John Dunlosky

John Dunlosky

Kent State University’s John Dunlosky and Katherine Rawson collaborated with Duke’s Elizabeth J. Marsh to investigate the validity of frequently recommended learning and recall strategies.

Katherine Rawson

Katherine Rawson

They were joined in the evaluation by University of Wisconsin’s Mitchell Nathan and Daniel Willingham of University of Virginia. 

The team evaluated ten learning techniques:

  • Practice testing
  • Distributed practice
  • Elaborative interrogation
  • Self-explanation
  • Interleaved practice
  • Summarization
  • Highlighting or underlining text
  • Keyword mnemonic
  • Imagery for text learning
  • Rereading 
Elizabeth J. Marsh

Elizabeth J. Marsh

Dunlosky’s team assessed the effectiveness of each approach according to their impact across four domains:

      • Learning conditions, such as solo or group efforts
      • Learner characteristics, including age, ability, and level of prior knowledge
      • Learning materials, ranging from simple to complex
      • Criterion tasks for outcome measures of memory, problem solving, and comprehension and related skills.
Mitchell Nathan

Mitchell Nathan

The team debunked the value of many frequently-recommended practice, but validated several of the more challenging and least enjoyable approaches:

  • Practice testing.  All testing, whether practice testing or high-stakes performance testing, can increase performance and recall, sometimes up to 100% improvement in free recall.
    The most effective practice tests go beyond multiple-choice recognition question to require more detailed, process-oriented inquiries created by the learner.
    Besides its effectiveness, practice testing is also the less time-consuming than other approaches, even the less effective techniques.
Daniel Willingham

Daniel Willingham

Open Source, no-cost Anki software provides flash-card reviews and Walter Pauk of Cornell’s note-taking system enable users to list questions in the column next to notes to speed development of practice tests.

The most powerful learning approach combines both strategies in self-tests over time.

->Moderately helpful learning and retention techniques:

  • Self-explanation documents how to solve problems while providing rationales for choices during learning.
    This approach is nearly twice as time consuming as its similarly-rated peer technique, elaborative interrogation explanation, so has a less effective “Return on Investment” of time and attention.
  • Interleaved practice involves shifting study from one related topic to another, and appears to enhance motor learning and mastering cognitive tasks like mathematical problems up to 43% and augment longer-term skill retention.

->Lowest utility practices:

  • Summarization requires succinctly describing content of every text.
    Like note-taking, it was helpful in preparing for written exams but less useful for recognition tasks like multiple choice tests.
    This method was more useful than the most common techniques of highlighting, underlining and rereading, but still had low efficacy for performance enhancement.
     
  • Highlighting or underlining is the most frequently-used practice but has low value as a performance, learning, and recall practice because it requires little critical thinking beyond reading.
  • Keyword mnemonic advocates linking words to meanings by word sounds and imagery.
    This approach is helpful to trigger short-term recall for people’s names and occupations, scientific terms and foreign words but not English word definitions.
    Keyword practice appears effective in limited instances when the material includes easily memorized keywords, but is less effective than rote learning for long-term recall.
  • Imagery for text learning requires imagining visual images while reading texts.
    This approach is somewhat effective for short texts and when the text is heard rather than read, but much less useful for longer text learning.
  • Rereading was much less effective than other techniques.
    Massed rereading immediately after reading was more effective than outlining and summarizing but spaced rereading was more beneficial than massed rereading, echoing the consistent finding that spaced practice enhances performance and retention.

Dunlosky’s team provided a critical evaluation of frequent learning practices and advocates adopting only those that have proven impact on learning, performance, and retention.
Their analysis suggests that leading practices are:

  • Scheduling practice spaced over time to increase retention and to reinforce skill acquisition
  • Creating practice why questions while reading
  • Writing detailed explanations of the why, how, and what of the topic.

-*How do you enhance your ability to learn, retain information, and perform new skills?

Please follow-share-like www.kathrynwelds.com and @kathrynwelds

RELATED POSTS:

Twitter:  @kathrynwelds
Blog: – Kathryn Welds | Curated Research and Commentary
Google+ google.com/+KathrynWelds
LinkedIn Open Group Psychology in Human Resources (Organisational Psychology)
Facebook Notes:

©Kathryn Welds