Testing = Learning
In what seems likely to be an “ah ha” moment for education development, researchers at Purdue University’s Department of Psychological Sciences, explored the possibility that testing isn’t just an assessment of learning, but is a component that facilitates learning just like studying – but better.*
“Practicing retrieval (testing) produces greater gains in meaningful learning than elaborative studying with concept mapping.*”
In an article published last month in Science magazine, a total of 200 students studied texts on topics from different science disciplines. One group engaged in elaborative studying by creating concept maps – diagrams that illustrate the complicated connections and relationships in the material. The second group read the texts and then practiced retrieval (unassisted recall of material). The students returned to the lab a week later for the actual assessment of long-term learning. The group that studied by practicing retrieval showed a 50% improvement in long-term retention scores above and beyond the group that studied by creating concept maps.
“Retrieval practice enhances learning by retrieval-specific mechanisms rather than by elaborative study processes.*”