In two experiments, learners studied word pairs one or two times and took a final cued recall test. They studied each pair upon its initial presentation and decided whether they would restudy it later, take a practice test on it later (retrieval practice), or forego all further practice with the pair. Whether learners preferred restudying or testing depended upon conditions. Regardless of whether practice tests were followed by feedback, they chose to take practice tests relatively more often when items were easy and the lag or spacing interval between the first and second occurrence was short, whereas they chose to restudy relatively more when items were hard and the lag was long. That is, they preferred testing under conditions in which successful retrieval on the practice test was likely. In Experiment 2, we varied the number of points each item was worth if recalled on the final test. A high point value led to a marked increase in both the preference for testing when the lag was short and the preference for restudying when the lag was long. Results support the hypothesis that learners appreciate at some level that retrieval practice can be a more effective learning strategy than restudying. However, they appear to believe that successful retrieval is necessary to reap the benefits of retrieval practice. As a consequence, their tendency to choose testing is influenced by conditions (item difficulty and spacing interval) that affect the likelihood of successful practice-test retrieval.
Memory & Cognition – Springer Journals
Published: May 29, 2018
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