Expectation of a final cumulative test enhances long-term retention

Abstract

In the present study, subjects studied lists of words across four experimental conditions: whether (or not) subjects received initial testing for these lists and whether (or not) they were made aware of an upcoming final free-recall test. Initial testing enhanced final-test performance; however, subjects benefited more from initial testing when they also knew they would need to remember the information for a later test. The data suggest that holding an expectation of the final test encouraged the continued processing of study materials following an initial test, affecting the accessibility of these materials at the time of final recall. The results clearly illustrate how an expectation of a cumulative test might influence long-term retention, which may have important implications for educational practice.

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Correspondence to Karl K. Szpunar.

Additional information

This research was supported by a grant from the James S. McDonell Foundation (220020041) to the second and third authors. The research was conducted as part of the first author’s master’s thesis and was presented as a poster at the 17th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Society in Los Angeles, CA. The manuscript benefited greatly from comments provided by Jason Chan, Sean Kang, Jessica Logan, and Mark McDaniel.

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Szpunar, K.K., McDermott, K.B. & Roediger, H.L. Expectation of a final cumulative test enhances long-term retention. Memory & Cognition 35, 1007–1013 (2007). https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03193473

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Keywords

  • Free Recall
  • Verbal Learn
  • Verbal Behavior
  • Initial Test
  • Proactive Interference