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Table 1 Review of educational long-term retention studies

From: Long-term retention of basic science knowledge: a review study

Author(s), year Domain Participants Type of test questions Correction for guessing Retention interval (RI) Nonuse during RIa % Retention
Arzi et al. (1986) Chemistry Grade 8–10 high school students (N = 1176) MCQs Yes 12 months Probably 53% Overall
Bassett (1929) History Grade 6–8 high school students (N = 1364) Mixed No 4–16 months Unlikely 86% (4 months), 79% (8 months), 74% (12 months), 63% (16 months)
Brooks and Bassett (1928) American History Junior high school pupils (N = 459) Mixed No 4–16 months Unlikely 7/8 (4 months), 5/6 (8 months), 3/4 (12 months), 2/3 (16 months)
Cederstrom (1930) Zoology Zoology students (N = 31), premedical and predental students (N = 56) Unknown No 12 months Possibly 75% on Scale A, 63% on Scale B
Eikenberry (1923) Different high school disciplines Senior college students (N = 34) Unknown No 2–4 years Depending on discipline Physics: 26%, chemistry: 45%, Latin: 55%, geometry: 86%, history: 87% to 127%
Ellis et al. (1998) Child psychology Former university psychology students (N = 1158) Mixed Yes 3–16 years Probably Factual knowledge: 38%, concept application: 15%
Eurich (1934) General psychology Educational psychology students (N = 283) Mixed No 6–9 months Unclear 90% after 6 months (MCQs), 73% after 9 months (completion items)
Frutchey (1937) Chemistry High school students (N = 96) Mixed No 1 year Unclear 81% Overall retention
Glasnapp et al. (1978) Measurement course for teacher trainees Teacher trainees (N = 396) MCQs No 4–16 months Unclear After 16 months: mastery group 80%, nonmastery group 67%
Greene (1931) Zoology, psychology, physiological chemistry College zoology freshmen (N = 407), college psychology sophomores (N = 525), first-year medical students (N = 130) Mixed No 3½–20 months Probably At 3½ months: 55% of zoology; 60% of psychology; 60% of physiological chemistry; at 20 months: 10%–20% all disciplines
Holcomb et al. (1982) Cardiovascular health knowledge Grade 9 high school students (N = 112) Unknown No 6 months Probably 85% (experimental group), 92% (control group)
Johnson (1930) Elementary general botany University biology freshmen (N = 128) Mixed Yes 3, 15, and 27 months Unclear 54% (3 months), 26% (15 months), 24% (27 months)
Kastrinos (1965) College preparatory biology High school students preparing for college (N = 28) MCQs (Probably) No 2 years Probably 83% after two years
McDougall (1958) Educational psychology Teacher trainees (N = 172) MCQs No 4 months Probably 73%–79%, depending on type of knowledge
McKeachie and Solomon (1957) General psychology Educational psychology students (N = 116) MCQs No 3 and 7 months Possibly 81% after 3 months, 82% after 7 months
Naveh-Benjamin (1988) Research methodology University students (N = 58) Concept sorting No 1 and 2 years Definitely not Higher levels: 90% (1 year), 85% (2 years); lower levels: 63% (1 year and 2 years)
Powers (1925) High school chemistry Freshmen entering the university (N = 349) Mixed No 3 to 51 +  months Unclear 92% (3 months), 63% (15 months), 49% (27 months), 43% (39 months), 30% (51 + months)
Rickard et al. (1988) Introductory psychology Lower division undergraduate university students (N = 74) MCQs No 4 months Possibly 70% after 4 months
Semb et al. (1993) Introductory child psychology University students (N = 37) Mixed No 4 and 11 months Unclear 85% (4 months) and 80% (11 months) MCQs; 75% (4 months) and 70% (11 months) mixed format questions
Tyler (1930) General science Grade 9 high school students (N = 68) MCQs No 8 months Probably 60% (factual knowledge); 87%–90% (explanations and generalizations)
Tyler (1933) Elementary zoology University students (N = 82) Open end mixed No 15 months Probably 74%–79% for factual knowledge
  1. aAs much as possible independently assessed, without taking retention performance into account