Instructional Science

, Volume 35, Issue 5, pp 407–441

Understanding and applying the dynamics of test practice and study practice


DOI: 10.1007/s11251-006-9013-2

Cite this article as:
Pavlik, P.I. Instr Sci (2007) 35: 407. doi:10.1007/s11251-006-9013-2


Two different methods of practice are available in the learning of simple information, test practice or study practice. Of these two methods of learning, research has generally shown that test practice is superior to study practice. However, this research has not considered the testing advantage with respect to the fact that test learning is uncertain (i.e. if recall fails, nothing appears to be learned) or with respect to the fact that study learning depends greatly on the duration of the study event. The following work clarifies these issues by presenting an integrated computational model of the relative costs and benefits of testing compared to study presentation [based on the ACT-R theory of declarative memory; Anderson, J.R. & Schooler, L.J. (1991). Psychological Science 2: 396–408; Pavlik Jr., P.I.. & Anderson, J.R. (2005). Cognitive Science 29: 559–586]. This model was applied to determine how test and study practice can be optimally employed to improve learning and provides a framework for understanding the effects of mnemonic strategies in simple memory tasks.


distributed practice efficiency forgetting memory modeling paired-associate practice spacing study effect testing effect 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center, Human Computer Interaction InstituteCarnegie Mellon UniversityPittsburghUSA

Personalised recommendations