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IES Grant

Title: Computer-Based Guided Retrieval Practice for Elementary School Children
Center: NCER Year: 2015
Principal Investigator: Karpicke, Jeffrey Awardee: Purdue University
Program: Cognition and Student Learning      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years (7/1/2015-6/30/2018) Award Amount: $1,499,697
Goal: Development and Innovation Award Number: R305A150546
Description:

Co-Principal Investigator: Jones, Michael (Indiana University)

Purpose: The objective of this research project is to develop and pilot test the Guided Retrieval Practice program, a computer-based program for elementary school students that will provide a sequence of encoding activities (e.g., identifying key terms) and retrieval practice activities (e.g., fill-in-the-blank) to promote high levels of retrieval success. Many students study using passive techniques, such as rereading their notes and textbooks, rather than those that require active retrieval of information, such as answering open-ended study questions at the end of chapter. Based on prior research from a previously funded IES project (Retrieval-Oriented Learning Strategies), the research team has shown that retrieval practice can be an effective learning strategy for elementary school students; however, it is difficult for these students to accomplish successful retrieval practice without appropriate guidance, support, and scaffolding. The prediction that will be tested in the pilot study is that by providing an intervention that guides active knowledge retrieval, elementary school students will develop the enriched mental models they need to retain knowledge over the long-term, make inferences, and solve novel problems.

Project Activities: During Years 1 and 2, the Guided Retrieval Practice program will be developed through an iterative sequence of controlled experiments that will identify the most effective ways to design and implement the activities. Focus groups of teachers and students will be used to gather feedback about the activities. Concurrently, the Bound Encoding of the Aggregate Language Environment (BEAGLE) Guide automated scoring system will be developed. In Year 3, a pilot study will be conducted using elementary school science topics to test the prediction that the intervention will improve students' learning as well as to assess feasibility and fidelity of implementation.

Products: The products of this project include a fully developed Guided Retrieval Practice program for elementary school students and peer-reviewed publications.

Structured Abstract

Setting: Participating elementary schools will be located in urban areas in Indiana.

Sample: Approximately 720 4th and 5th grade students (about 80 per experiment) will participate in the project over the course of three years. Students will come from a wide range of socioeconomic backgrounds. In addition, approximately eight teachers and multiple small groups of students from the sample (groups of four to six) will be asked to participate in focus groups during the iterative development process in Years 1 and 2.

Intervention: The Guided Retrieval Practice program will include a sequence of encoding activities (e.g., identifying key terms, answering embedded questions, and sorting concepts) and retrieval practice activities (e.g., fill-in-the-blank, cued recall, free recall) that build up to free recall by gradually fading the support during retrieval activities to promote high levels of retrieval success. Student performance will be assessed in real-time through an automated scoring system, the BEAGLE Guide, which will be capable of scoring students' short-answer, cued recall, and free recall responses. It will also include mechanisms for automatically identifying key terms and automatically generating potential retrieval practice questions from educational texts. The intervention will be pilot tested with science topics; however, it is intended for use across a variety of academic content areas.

Research Design and Methods: During Years 1 and 2, the Guided Retrieval Practice program will be developed through an iterative sequence of eight controlled experiments that will identify the most effective ways to design and implement the encoding and retrieval activities. Experiments will be carried out over a total of eight sessions. Experimental manipulations will be within-subjects; each student will complete one program condition with one science topic over the first four sessions and the second condition with another science topic over the second four sessions. The order of conditions and the order of topics to be learned will be fully counterbalanced across students, with students randomly assigned to counterbalancing orders. In the program, students will read educational texts on science topics and complete a series of activities where they work with the material (encoding activities) and practice actively recalling it in a variety of ways (retrieval activities). Students will complete pre-tests, assessments during the activities within the program, and delayed short-answer assessments. Students will also be asked to provide ratings at the end of each learning session on topics such as their interest, engagement, and the ease of use of the system. Concurrently, the BEAGLE Guide automated scoring system will be developed. Focus groups of teachers and students will be used to gather feedback about the activities and the BEAGLE Guide as they are developed. In Year 3, a pilot study will be conducted using elementary school science topics to test the prediction that the fully developed intervention will improve students' learning as well as to assess feasibility and fidelity of implementation. The pilot study will follow the same experimental design and procedure as the other experiments.

Control Condition: For the design experiments, there is no formal control condition. Instead, conditions will vary as a function of the research question. For the pilot study, the control condition will be an "encoding only" version of the program, where encoding activities (e.g., identifying key terms, answering embedded questions, and sorting concepts) are repeated in place of the retrieval practice activities that will be given in the intervention condition.

Key Measures: Primary measures include student performance on component activities within the program and on researcher-developed, short-answer assessments, which will include verbatim, inference, and application questions about the science topics learned. Feasibility will be assessed by asking teachers about the intervention's use in their classrooms. Usability and fidelity will be assessed using data generated by the program, and through analysis of teacher logs on how they implemented the program.

Data Analytic Strategy: The research team will use multilevel models to analyze the data from each experiment, with conditions nested within students nested within classrooms. They will examine effect sizes for differences between conditions in each experiment and to indicate the direction and magnitude of the differences.

Related IES Project: Retrieval-Oriented Learning Strategies (R305A110903)

Publications

Journal article, monograph, or newsletter

Ariel, R. and Karpicke, J.D. (2017). Improving Self-Regulated Learning With a Retrieval Practice Intervention. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied.

Jones, M.N., Gruenenfelder, T.M., and Recchia, G. (in press). In defense of spatial models of semantic representation. New Ideas in Psychology.

Whiffen, J.W. and Karpicke, J.D. (2017). The role of episodic context in retrieval practice effects. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 43, 1036–1046.


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