Testing improves long-term retention in a simulated classroom setting

  • Butler A
  • Roediger H
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The benefits of testing on long-term retention of lecture material were examined in a simulated classroom setting. Participants viewed a series of three lectures on consecutive days and engaged in a different type of postlecture activity on each day: studying a lecture summary, taking a multiple choice test, or taking a short answer test. Feedback (correct answers) was provided for half of the responses on the multiple choice and short answer tests. A final comprehensive short answer test was given 1 month later. Restudying or taking a multiple choice test soon after learning improved final recall relative to no activity, but taking an initial short answer test improved final recall the most. Feedback did not affect retention, probably due to the high level of performance on the initial tests. This finding is a powerful demonstration of how tests (especially recall tests) can improve retention of material after long retention intervals.

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