Tests Enhance the Transfer of Learning

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learning, map, retrieval practice, testing effect, transfer

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Numerous learning studies have shown that if the period of time devoted to studying information (e.g., casa-house) includes at least 1 test (casa-?), performance on a final test is improved—a finding known as the testing effect. In most of these studies, however, the final test is identical to the initial test. If the final test requires a novel demonstration of learning (i.e., transfer), prior studies suggest that a greater degree of transfer reduces the size of the testing effect. The authors tested this conjecture. In 2 experiments, 4th- or 5th-grade students learned to assign regions or cities to map locations and returned 1 day later for 2 kinds of final tests. One final test required exactly the same task seen during the learning session, and the other final test consisted of novel, more challenging questions. In both experiments, testing effects were found for both kinds of final tests, and the testing effect was no smaller, and actually slightly larger, for the final test requiring transfer.

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Citation / Publisher Attribution

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, v. 36, issue 1, p. 233-239