Tag Archives: test-enhanced learning

The Retention Toolkit #2: Spacing Effect

klsgfx-Swiss-Army-Knife-2The Retention Toolkit is a series of posts describing research based tools which help improve long-term knowledge retention.

In my first post of this series, I presented research on test-enhanced learning: using testing not as an evaluation technique, but as a learning technique to improve retention.  Testing is a far more efficient use of time than study techniques such as rereading, reviewing lecture notes, or making outlines.

But how is test-enhanced learning best implemented?  Research in human memory shows that timing is everything.  It’s called the spacing effect.

Information that is spaced over time is better remembered than the same amount of information massed together.(1)

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Worse Than Useless: How multiple choice tests can negatively impact learning, and what to do about it

ExamCritics of standardized testing have long held that multiple choice tests are useless for evaluating a student’s real understanding of material. They wrongly assume that the testing itself is learning neutral- that taking the test has no impact on students, aside from wasting their time.

Policy makers who support standardized testing also view test taking as learning neutral, despite long standing and robust evidence that test-taking has an important impact on retention of knowledge.

Generally, testing is an excellent way of increasing retention. But there is one exception: the multiple choice or true/false test without detailed feedback- a.k.a. the standardized test.

Continue reading Worse Than Useless: How multiple choice tests can negatively impact learning, and what to do about it

The Retention Toolkit #1 : Retrieval Practice

klsgfx-Swiss-Army-Knife-2The Retention Toolkit is a series of posts describing research based tools which help improve long-term knowledge retention.

Imagine the following scenario: You are presented with a Swahili-English word pair list to study for a fixed amount of time. An hour later, you have a choice: You can either re-study the list, or use a blank sheet of paper to attempt to recall all the word pairs you can. You will be tested on this material in one week. What should you choose?

Continue reading The Retention Toolkit #1 : Retrieval Practice