Test-Enhanced Learning Made Easy
1- Why does Test-Enhanced Learning matter?
The research is clear: rereading a text doesn’t work as well as taking a test over the material. Known as retrieval practice, it involves students studying a passage of text. Then, students take a low-stakes test about it. This pushes them to recall material from memory. In time, this assists students with remembering the material.
Students recall more information from practice testing than rereading.
- Need information retained for a short time? Study it.
Studying over fewer, longer sessions is less effective than its alternative. The alternative is spacing out the intervals of study over a longer period of time. This is called Spaced vs massed practice and enjoys an effect size of .65.
- Need long-term retention of information? Use practice testing.
Testing has a greater impact than repeated study when done over time.
Testing after reading improves students’ ability to answer questions. That includes questions that are “in the text” and “in the head.”
Testing done once a day after covering material increased retention
Students tested often had increased retention.
It doesn’t matter what form the questions take. Students gain the benefit of practice testing regardless of question type. All questions were as effective as the others at enhancing the students’ learning. Question types include:
The Power of Feedback
You can deepen the impact of practice testing if students receive feedback. Delayed feedback yields better results. That’s no surprise since feedback has an effect size of .64 itself.
2- Who Should Make the Practice Tests?
What’s convenient about practice testing is teachers or students can create the test. Although teachers can make a practice test, there’s a benefit to students making it.
The question is, what’s the best way to do that?
Tools You May Be Familiar With
My Story with Practice Testing
As a high school student, I stumbled upon a technique that I wish someone had told me about earlier. That is, how to read a selection of text then select content that might appear on a test.
At the time, I did not create a test. I highlighted, wrote down or summarized critical test information. It was only later that I would reformulate my notes into test questions.
This technique was quite effective in history classes, which I made straight “As” in.
How can we encourage our students to do that easily?
3- How Can Students Convert Notes to Practice Tests That Deepen Their Learning?
Students can now use a free service to turn their notes into practice quizzes. Students can use an online notebook, or import their notes.
The imported notes can be in Google Docs, or Word format. Once imported, the student click a button and their notes get turned into a quiz.
Students can take their online notes, click a button, and a quiz appears. Knowt features fill in the blank, multiple choice or short answer questions.
Recall that question type doesn’t matter for practice testing. Instead, it’s the repetition on a daily basis to allow for spaced practice (.65 effect size).