On Taking Tests as a Learning Activity: Comprehension, Concept Maps, and Multiple Choice Quizzes
Tom Carr, Professor of Psychology, Michigan State University
The impact of retrieval practice, its underlying mechanisms, and the boundary conditions on its effective deployment have become topics of high interest in both basic and applied studies of academically-relevant learning. Results from a collaboration involving laboratory data collection at Michigan State University and Kalamazoo College and classroom data collection at Albion College show (a) comprehension of studied material is needed to gain the full benefits of retrieval practice on subsequent remembering, (b) when classroom topics are more difficult making comprehension a greater challenge, concept mapping becomes more effective than other retrieval-practice tools at producing potentially transferrable knowledge, but (c) better remembering does not in and of itself guarantee better transfer and application — you’ve got to remember the right material at the right time and realize its relevance.
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