Test-Enhanced Learning in the Classroom: Long-Term Improvements From Quizzing

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Abstract

Three experiments examined whether quizzing promotes learning and retention of material from a social studies course with sixth grade students from a suburban middle school. The material used in the experiments was the course material students were to learn and some of the dependent measures were the actual tests on which students received grades. In within-subject designs, students received three low-stakes multiple-choice quizzes in Experiments 1 and 2 and performance on quizzed items was compared to that on items that were presented twice (Experiment 2) or items that were not presented on the initial quizzes (Experiments 1 and 2). We found that students' performance on both chapter exams and semester exams improved following quizzing relative to either not being quizzed or relative to the twice-presented items. In Experiment 3, students were given one multiple-choice quiz in class and encouraged to quiz themselves outside of class using a Web-based system. The assessment in this experiment was a short answer test in which students had to produce answers, but we also used multiple-choice tests. Once again, we found that quizzing of material produced a positive effect on chapter and semester exams. These results show the robustness of retrieval practice via testing as a learning mechanism in a classroom setting using the subject matter of the course and (in most cases) the tests on which students received grades as the dependent measures. Our results add to a growing body of evidence that retrieval practice in the classroom can boost academic performance.

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