National education and labor news

Quizzes make studying more effective

Students who quiz themselves while studying retain significantly more information than students using other study techniques, according to a new report in Current Directions in Psychological Science. Despite the usefulness of this technique, the research also shows that few students use quizzes to study.

Researcher Jeffrey D. Karpicke of Purdue University surveyed a large group of college students on their study habits and then measured their ability to retain information using three different study strategies: repeatedly studying a text for four study periods; studying a text for three study periods followed by one recall/quiz period; and studying a text for one period followed by three periods of quizzing. Each study or recall period lasted 30 minutes.

When Karpicke asked the students to predict how much they had learned, those who had repeatedly reread the material believed they had learned more than the other two groups. Yet, when tested a week later, the students who had repeatedly reread the material learned the least while the group that had the most quiz periods learned the most.

In a related experiment on the benefits of quizzing, one group of students read a text once during a 30-minute study period. A second group read the text, recalled as much as they could in a recall period, and then reread the text briefly again, all within 30 minutes. A third group of students alternated studying and recalling four times in the same time frame. When tested a week later, the group that practiced retrieving the material multiple times retained almost four times more information as the reading-only group and twice as much as the group that quizzed themselves once.

Meanwhile, the students who recalled the material once remembered twice as much as the group that had read the text once and done no quizzing.

Karpicke writes that retrieval is a key process of learning and should be practiced because all expressions of knowledge involve retrieving information. He recommends using retrieval-based learning techniques in the classroom by integrating questions into lectures, employing different questioning techniques in group discussions and using frequent classroom quizzes.

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