Memory & Cognition

, Volume 42, Issue 7, pp 1038-1048

First online:

Expecting to teach enhances learning and organization of knowledge in free recall of text passages

  • John F. NestojkoAffiliated withWashington University in St. Louis Email author 
  • , Dung C. BuiAffiliated withWashington University in St. Louis
  • , Nate KornellAffiliated withWilliams College
  • , Elizabeth Ligon BjorkAffiliated withUniversity of California, Los Angeles

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The present research assessed the potential effects of expecting to teach on learning. In two experiments, participants studied passages either in preparation for a later test or in preparation for teaching the passage to another student who would then be tested. In reality, all participants were tested, and no one actually engaged in teaching. Participants expecting to teach produced more complete and better organized free recall of the passage (Experiment 1) and, in general, correctly answered more questions about the passage than did participants expecting a test (Experiment 1), particularly questions covering main points (Experiment 2), consistent with their having engaged in more effective learning strategies. Instilling an expectation to teach thus seems to be a simple, inexpensive intervention with the potential to increase learning efficiency at home and in the classroom.


Memory Recall Text processing