Psychonomic Bulletin & Review

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 200–206 | Cite as

Generalizing test-enhanced learning from the laboratory to the classroom

  • Mark A. McdanielEmail author
  • Henry L. Roediger
  • Kathleen B. Mcdermott
Applying cognitive psychology to education


Test-enhanced learning refers to the fact that taking an initial test on studied material enhances its later retention relative to simply studying the material and then taking a final test. Most research on the testing effect has been done with materials such as word lists, and the general finding has been that the benefits of testing are greater when the initial test is a recall (production) test rather than a recognition test. We briefly summarize three experiments that extend these results to educationally relevant materials, namely brief articles, lectures, and materials in a college course. All three experiments demonstrated a robust testing effect and also revealed that an initial short-answer test produced greater gains on a final test than did an initial multiple-choice test. Furthermore, one experiment revealed a positive effect of immediate feedback given with the initial test. The educational implications are that production tests (short answer or essay) and feedback soon after learning increase learning and retention. In addition, frequent testing probably has the indirect positive effects of keeping students motivated and leading them to space out periods of study.


Retention Interval Initial Test Final Test Testing Effect Short Answer 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark A. Mcdaniel
    • 1
    Email author
  • Henry L. Roediger
    • 1
  • Kathleen B. Mcdermott
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyWashington University in St. LouisSt. Louis

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