Practicing Retrieval Better Than Rereading or Reviewing Notes, Uni Study Reveals

Dr Jeffrey Karpicke, Purdue University, Indiana, USA

A Purdue University (Indiana, USA) study shows that rather than reread or review notes students should self-test when studying instead.

Dr Jeffrey D Karpicke studied 200 students. One group created concept maps, diagrams showing connections between the ideas in the text; the second group read the material then practiced retrieving by putting the text away and recalling from memory. One week later when both groups
were tested, the second group who practiced retrieving had 50% better scores than the first group who created concept maps.

All students were asked at the start which technique would be better for long-term memory – practicing retrieval or concept mapping. Most students thought studying using elaborate concept maps would be best, but curiously students actually remembered more by practicing retrieval.

‘Students do not always know what methods will produce the best learning,’ Karpicke said.

‘There is a disconnect between what students think is good for studying and what is actually best. Rather than reread or review their notes, students are better self-testing during study.

‘Practicing retrieval, or testing yourself, is a powerful, robust tool for learning,’ said Dr. Jeffrey D. Karpicke, an assistant professor of psychological sciences at Purdue University.

‘When students have the material in front of them, they think they know it better than they actually do,” he said. Many students do not realize that putting the material away and practicing retrieval is such a potent study strategy.’

Karpicke’s findings appear in the journal Science, and the National Science Foundation supports his work.  Read more.

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