Standardizing Retrieval


Rethinking the Use of Tests: A Meta-Analysis of Practice Testing by Olusola O. Adesope, Dominic A.Trevisan, Narayankripa Sundararajan
Review of Educational Research, Vol 87, Issue 3, pp. 659 – 701, February 1, 2017

Most students prepare for tests by rereading material and reviewing their notes. But compared to only restudying material, students learn more and retain more when they take practice tests that involve retrieval – the free recall of information. The evidence indicates that retrieval practice increases achievement across a wide array of educational levels. These are the findings of a meta-analysis synthesizing 118 studies on the effects of practice tests on learning. The effects were amplified for some students when they received feedback on practice tests before taking final tests. Feedback provides the opportunity to correct errors and retain correct answers on a later test, particularly boosting confidence for students who struggle. The authors advocate the use of frequent quizzes as a learning tool, so that teachers and students can assess knowledge gaps, rather than high-stakes tests, such as final exams, used for summative purposes. Other forms of retrieval practice that can improve classroom learning include: increasing wait time after asking a question so that all students can process the question and gain the cognitive benefit of retrieval practice and teaching students how to incorporate retrieval practice as part of their studying routine.

Submitted By: Pearl Rock Kane, Klingenstein Center, New York, NY

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