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Exp Psychol. 2009;56(4):252-7. doi: 10.1027/1618-3169.56.4.252.

The testing effect and the retention interval: questions and answers.

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  • 1Villanova University, PA, USA. thomas.toppino@villanova.edu


People learn from tests. Providing tests often enhances retention more than additional study opportunities, but is this testing effect mediated by processes related to retrieval that are fundamentally different from study processes? Some previous studies have reported that testing enhances retention relative to additional studying, but only after a relatively long retention interval. To the extent that this interaction with retention interval dissociates the effects of studying and testing, it may provide crucial evidence for different underlying processes. However, these findings can be questioned because of methodological differences between the study and the test conditions. In two experiments, we eliminated or minimized the confounds that rendered the previous findings equivocal and still obtained the critical interaction. Our results strengthen the evidence for the involvement of different processes underlying the effects of studying and testing, and support the hypothesis that the testing effect is grounded in retrieval-related processes.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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