WWC review of this study

Does providing prompts during retrieval practice improve learning?

Smith, M. A., Blunt, J. R., Whiffen, J. W., & Karpicke, J. D. (2016). Applied Cognitive Psychology, 30(4), 544-553.

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    150
     Students
    , grade
    PS

Reviewed: August 2017

At least one finding shows promising evidence of effectiveness
At least one statistically significant positive finding
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Reading Comprehension outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Higher order questions

Retrieval-based learning activities vs. None

1 Week

Free-Prompted vs. comparison;
60 students

N/A

N/A

Yes

 
 
35
 
More Outcomes

Higher order questions

Retrieval-based learning activities vs. None

1 Week

Prompted-Prompted vs. comparison;
60 students

N/A

N/A

Yes

 
 
35
 

Verbatim questions

Retrieval-based learning activities vs. None

1 Week

Free-Prompted vs. comparison;
60 students

N/A

N/A

Yes

 
 
29
 

Higher order questions

Retrieval-based learning activities vs. None

1 Week

Free-Free vs. comparison;
60 students

N/A

N/A

Yes

 
 
28
 

Verbatim questions

Retrieval-based learning activities vs. None

1 Week

Prompted-Prompted vs. comparison;
60 students

N/A

N/A

Yes

 
 
25
 

Higher order questions

Retrieval-based learning activities vs. None

1 Week

Prompted-Free vs. comparison;
60 students

N/A

N/A

Yes

 
 
24
 

Verbatim questions

Retrieval-based learning activities vs. None

1 Week

Prompted-Free vs. comparison;
60 students

N/A

N/A

Yes

 
 
22
 

Verbatim questions

Retrieval-based learning activities vs. None

1 Week

Free-Free vs. comparison;
60 students

N/A

N/A

Yes

 
 
21
 


Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


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    Indiana

Setting

The study took place at Purdue University among students in an undergraduate Introductory Psychology course.

Study sample

Demographic data about the sample are not provided.

Intervention Group

This study focuses on the impact of retrieval-based learning activities as a tool to promote student learning. It examines two types of retrieval: free recall, which involves reconstructing information purely from memory, and prompted recall, which involves providing cues to help with information retrieval. The intervention took place in one day. All students read for five minutes, and then students in intervention conditions completed a seven-minute recall activity, corresponding to the group to which they were assigned. Students in the Free-Free and Free-Prompted conditions completed a free-recall task, while those in the Prompted-Prompted and Prompted-Free conditions completed a prompted-recall task. All students then completed a rating exercise, responding to questions such as “How well do you think you will remember this material in 1 week?” All students then read a second text, and those in the intervention group completed a second recall activity corresponding to their group assignment. Students in the Free-Free and Prompted-Free conditions completed a free recall task, while those in the Prompted-Prompted and Free-Prompted conditions completed a prompted recall task. Students then repeated the rating exercise.

Comparison Group

Students in the comparison condition read the same set of texts, and took the same assessments. However, while students in each of the four intervention groups were completing recall tasks, students in the comparison condition played video games.

Support for implementation

No support is provided, since the intervention was administered by the researchers. The study did rely on computer software to assist students with recall activities and to administer assessments.

 

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