Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Student self-testing earns high marks as study tool

Date:
December 11, 2009
Source:
Purdue University
Summary:
College students who pore over their notes again and again as they prep for finals could use their studying time more wisely, according to new learning research.

College students who pore over their notes again and again as they prep for finals could use their studying time more wisely, according to new learning research from Purdue University.

"We know that self-testing, which happens when students practice retrieving knowledge, drives learning," says Jeffrey D. Karpicke, an assistant professor of psychological sciences. "Students can really benefit from testing themselves as they study by using something as simple as flashcards. However, the key is to not drop a flashcard once you feel you have mastered the material. Keep it as part of your rotation and keep practicing retrieval of that information."

Karpicke found in his study that college students are more likely to invest their time in repetitive note reading, and those who do practice retrieval spend too little time on it.

"My research found that this happens because there is an illusion about how much a person is actually learning while they are self-testing," said Karpicke, who is a cognitive psychologist and memory expert.

The illusion takes root when students feel answers come to them easily as they practice testing. For example, students using flashcards to study may eliminate certain cards when they believe they know that material well.

"This is called retrieval fluency," he said. "If you practiced recalling information even a few more times, it would produce big gains in learning and long-term retention. The reason people don't keep testing themselves is because they are tricked by retrieval fluency. The answer comes to mind so easily the first time that they think they know it and drop the card from further self-testing. But this is not a recipe for good long-term learning."

The research findings appeared in last month's Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. Karpicke conducted four experiments with 150 college students in various studying situations on Swahili-English vocabulary words. Students in each experiment learned vocabulary words from a computerized flashcard format, and then the conditions were varied based on studying techniques assigned by Karpicke or selected by the participant. The students returned a week later for final testing.

No matter if the students selected their own studying strategy or it was assigned, they all learned better when self-testing all of the material from the electronic flashcard format. Students didn't do as well on the final test if they dropped material as they learned it during self-testing.

The students whose studying techniques were assigned received computer prompts on what to study and even how to study it at times. Some of the students in the experiment could select how they wanted to study, and they were likely to drop the vocabulary words they felt they knew well. As a result, many could not remember the words when they returned a week later for the final test.

"What is surprising is that we know practicing retrieval by self-testing is really powerful, and yet people don't use it, or don't use it well," he said. "These are college students who are generally successful academically, so this just shows how powerful the illusion can be."

Karpicke's work was funded by a dissertation research award from the American Psychological Association and a graduate research scholarship from the American Psychological Foundation/Council of Graduate Departments of Psychology. He will continue studying learning techniques, and his next project will focus on evaluating how course instruction relates to the studying strategies students select.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Purdue University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Karpicke et al. Metacognitive control and strategy selection: Deciding to practice retrieval during learning.. Journal of Experimental Psychology General, 2009; 138 (4): 469 DOI: 10.1037/a0017341

Cite This Page:

Purdue University. "Student self-testing earns high marks as study tool." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 December 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091210125928.htm>.
Purdue University. (2009, December 11). Student self-testing earns high marks as study tool. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091210125928.htm
Purdue University. "Student self-testing earns high marks as study tool." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/12/091210125928.htm (accessed July 23, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Why Do People Believe We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains?

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The new sci-fi thriller "Lucy" is making people question whether we really use all our brainpower. But, as scientists have insisted for years, we do. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Do Obese Women Have 'Food Learning Impairment'?

Newsy (July 18, 2014) Yale researchers tested 135 men and women, and it was only obese women who were deemed to have "impaired associative learning." Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Does Mixing Alcohol and Energy Drinks Boost Urge To Drink?

Does Mixing Alcohol and Energy Drinks Boost Urge To Drink?

Newsy (July 18, 2014) A new study suggests that mixing alcohol with energy drinks makes you want to keep the party going. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Pot Cooking Class Teaches Responsible Eating

Pot Cooking Class Teaches Responsible Eating

AP (July 18, 2014) Following the nationwide trend of eased restrictions on marijuana use, pot edibles are growing in popularity. One Boston-area cooking class is teaching people how to eat pot responsibly. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins