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Memory. 2012;20(6):568-79. doi: 10.1080/09658211.2012.687052. Epub 2012 Jun 6.

How and when do students use flashcards?

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Department of Psychology, Kent State University, Kent, OH 44242-0001, USA.


Previous survey research has documented students' use of self-regulated study strategies, with a particular interest in self-testing. These surveys indicate that students frequently use flashcards to self-test and that self-testing is primarily used as a way to monitor learning. Whereas previous surveys provide information about whether and why students self-test, they provide minimal information about how and when students choose to self-test. Accordingly, the primary purpose of the current survey was to explore how and when students engage in self-testing. We surveyed 374 undergraduates about the amount of practice and the timing of practice, two factors that strongly affect the efficacy of self-testing. Results indicate that students understand the benefits of practising to higher criterion levels (amount of practice) but do not typically implement or understand the benefits of practising with longer lags (timing of practice). We discuss practical implications for supporting more successful student learning.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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