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J Exp Psychol Gen. 2009 Nov;138(4):469-86. doi: 10.1037/a0017341.

Metacognitive control and strategy selection: deciding to practice retrieval during learning.

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1
Department of Psychological Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2081, USA. karpicke@purdue.edu

Abstract

Retrieval practice is a potent technique for enhancing learning, but how often do students practice retrieval when they regulate their own learning? In 4 experiments the subjects learned foreign-language items across multiple study and test periods. When items were assigned to be repeatedly tested, repeatedly studied, or removed after they were recalled, repeated retrieval produced powerful effects on learning and retention. However, when subjects were given control over their own learning and could choose to test, study, or remove items, many subjects chose to remove items rather than practice retrieval, leading to poor retention. In addition, when tests were inserted in the learning phase, attempting retrieval improved learning by enhancing subsequent encoding during study. But when students were given control over their learning they did not attempt retrieval as early or as often as they should to promote the best learning. The experiments identify a compelling metacognitive illusion that occurs during self-regulated learning: Once students can recall an item they tend to believe they have "learned" it. This leads students to terminate practice rather than practice retrieval, a strategy choice that ultimately results in poor retention.

PMID:
19883131
DOI:
10.1037/a0017341
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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