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Title: The effects of generative testing on text retention and text comprehension
Authors: Dirkx, Kim
Kester, Liesbeth
Kirschner, Paul A.
Keywords: testing effect
Issue Date: Sep-2011
Abstract: Retrieving information is an effective learning strategy for learning facts. In today’s educational context however, more emphasis is on meaningful learning (e.g., comprehension, evaluation). In the present experiment, it was investigated if the testing effect can be generalized to more meaningful testing methods. For that purpose, summarizing was used in this study. Summarizing has been acknowledged as a useful technique for enhancing comprehension and requires students to retrieve information without cues. In the present study, the effects of restudying versus summarizing (as retrieval strategy) on comprehension were investigated. Because the amount of initially retrieved information might affect the final test performance, number of words and idea units retrieved during the summary condition were also analyzed. The results showed no effects of summarizing as retrieval strategy compared to restudying on the final test that measured comprehension. Thus, in this study no evidence was found for the generalization of a testing effect to comprehension using summarizing as test. The retrieval effect of a summary test did not lead to enhancement of comprehension. However, significant positive correlations were found between the amount of words and idea units recalled during summarizing and the final test score. The more words and idea units initially recalled the greater long-term performance. One explanation for the results might be that students had difficulty making good summaries and this influenced their learning. Another explanation might be the rather low initial retrieval. Future research might focus on investigating if other test formats are more suited to enhance comprehension, application or transfer because these educational goals become more and more important in education. An interesting aspect in such research might be the improvement of initial retrieval. Additionally, it might be important to include repeated tests or feedback when investigating the testing effect in educational contexts.
Description: Dirkx, K. J. H., Kester, L., & Kirschner, P. A. (2011, 30 August). The effects of generative testing methods on text retention and text comprehension. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction, Exeter, United Kingdom.
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