Intriguing article about the benefits of tests

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The New York Times has an interesting story about a study reported in the journal Science. Students were first asked to read a text. Some of the students then took a test (an essay/recall task) about the reading; those students had better recall a week later than students who crammed or students who drew concept maps about the text.

So it's possible we should be giving low-stakes tests more often, at least when recall is the goal. Any thoughts?

The article is here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/21/science/21memory.html

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2 Comments

This is the first semester I've implemented low-stakes tests (although they are more like quizzes). This article makes me think of one of our TSG recipients who is working on methods to increase reading compliance. These results really backup the importance of the reading compliance issue that many of our faculty face.

I'm giving 5 ten-point quizzes throughout the semester, almost entirely based on the readings. The quizzes are not very difficult. I'm trying to use them simply to check if students are reading, so I'm asking very high-level questions that *should* be easy to answer if they picked up the book.

good find.

We have been singing the praises of "frequent testing" at the Institute for many years. This study provides some evidence for frequent testing as a good strategy to help students learn. The e-Testing Center enables faculty to do more of this kind of testing, which we believe will benefit students.

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