Retrieval practice and transfer learning

The simplest instantiation of the Testing effect is elicited when students test themselves on a prompt which they’ll later be tested on (i.e. identically). So: say you memorize a thousand prompts about a topic. What we really care about is not just your ability to answer those specific questions, but how that practice affects your utilizable understanding of the topic. What can you actually do with it? If I ask you an open-ended question involving the knowledge you practiced, can you marshall that knowledge—i.e. Transfer learning.

In the mnemonic medium

My coarse impression from the last few years of observations (2024-04) is that knowledge reinforced by the Mnemonic medium is pretty brittle; doesn’t transfer very well.

Experimental evidence

To read

  • Agarwal, P. K., Bain, P. M., & Chamberlain, R. W. (2012). The value of applied research: Retrieval practice improves classroom learning and recommendations from a teacher, a principal, and a scientist. Educa- tional Psychology Review, 24,437– 448. s10648-012-9210-2
  • Johnson, C. I., & Mayer, R. E. (2009). A testing effect with multimedia learning. Journal of Educational Psychology, 101(3), 621–629.
  • McDaniel, M. A., Howard, D. C., & Einstein, G. O. (2009). The Read-Recite-Review Study Strategy: Effective and Portable. Psychological Science, 20(4), 516–522.
  • McDaniel, M. A., Thomas, R. C., Agarwal, P. K., McDermott, K. B., & Roediger, H. L. (2013). Quizzing in middle-school science: Successful transfer performance on classroom exams. Applied Cognitive Psychol- ogy, 27,360–372.
  • Agarwal, P. K. (2019). Retrieval practice and Bloom’s taxonomy: do students need fact knowledge before higher order learning? Journal of Educational Psychology, 111, 2 189–209.
  • Butler, A. C., Black-Maier, A. C., Raley, N. D., & Marsh, E. J. (2017). Retrieving and applying knowledge to different examples promotes transfer of learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, 23,433–446.
  • Carpenter, S. K. (2012). Testing enhances the transfer of learning. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 21,279–283. .1177/0963721412452728
  • Rohrer, D., Taylor, K., & Sholar, B. (2010). Tests enhance the transfer of learning. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 36,233–239.
  • van Eersel, G. G., Verkoeijen, P. P., Povilenaite, M., & Rikers, R. (2016). The testing effect and far transfer: The role of exposure to key infor- mation. Frontiers in Psychology, 7, 1977. fpsyg.2016.01977
  • Balch, W. R. (1998). Practice versus review exams and final exam performance. Teaching of Psychology, 25, 181–185. .1207/s15328023top2503_3
  • Bjork, E. L., Little, J. L., & Storm, B. C. (2014). Multiple-choice testing as a desirable difficulty in the classroom. Journal of Applied Research in Memory & Cognition, 3, 165–170. .2014.03.002
  • McConnell, M. M., St-Onge, C., & Young, M. E. (2015). The benefits of testing for learning on later performance. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 20, 305–320.
  • McDaniel, M. A., Anderson, J. L., Derbish, M. H., & Morrisette, N. (2007). Testing the testing effect in the classroom. European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 19, 494 –513. 09541440701326154
  • McDaniel, M. A., Wildman, K. M., & Anderson, J. L. (2012). Using quizzes to enhance summative-assessment performance in a web-based class: An experimental study. Journal of Applied Research in Memory & Cognition, 1, 18–26.
Last updated 2024-04-16.