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2006Research Conference | June 15–16

This conference highlighted the work of invited speakers, independent researchers who have received grant funds from the Institute of Education Sciences, and trainees supported through predoctoral training grants and postdoctoral fellowships. The presentations are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the U.S. Department of Education or the Institute of Education Sciences.
Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill
400 New Jersey Avenue, N.W.
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Do Repeated Practice Tests Promote Student Learning of Text Material?

Presenters:
Katherine Rawson, Kent State University
John Dunlosky, Kent State University
Mary Pyc, Kent State University

Abstract: Previous research has shown that spaced retrieval practice improves learning of simple verbal materials (e.g., word pairs). The present research attempted to generalize to student learning of definitions for key terms from class materials. In Experiment 1, undergraduates in General Psychology studied definitions from a General Psychology textbook and were then given one or more practice tests for each item. On each test trial, the term was presented and participants typed in their recall of the definition. They were then shown the correct definition for restudy. In the single group, each item received one practice test with 8 items intervening between initial study and test. In the fixed group, each item received three practice tests, with 8 other items intervening between initial study and each test trial. In the expanding group, each item received three practice tests, with approximately 2, 9, and then 17 items intervening. All participants then received a final cued recall test one week later. Surprisingly, final test performance was not significantly greater for either the fixed or expanding groups versus the single group. Experiment 2 tested whether the efficacy of repeated trials can be improved by having students engage in more active processing during each practice trial. Half of the participants in each group (single, fixed, or expanding) performed a "puzzle" task. After each recall attempt, the pieces of the correct definition were presented in random order and the participant had to indicate their correct order before moving on to the next item.