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

Abstract

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.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    In the interest of full disclosure, we note that we also conducted this analysis using a different criterion for classifying main points and detail points: Specifically, questions were labeled as main points or detail points only if 66 % of the pilot participants agreed in their ratings. Using this criterion, the interaction between expectancy instructions and information type was not statistically significant, although the pattern of data was essentially the same as reported using the “majority rules” criterion reported here. The 66 % criterion led to six questions being dropped from analysis, which reduced the power of the ANOVA to detect differences, and so we interpret the observed null effect with caution.

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Acknowledgments

This research was supported by a Collaborative Activity grant from the James S. McDonnell Foundation. We thank Fredrik Jönsson, Veit Kubik, Victor Sungkhasettee, Katherine Rawson, and three anonymous reviewers for helpful comments on earlier versions of the manuscript. Thanks to members of the Bjork Learning and Forgetting Lab for discussion about this project and to Genna Angello, Lauren Camarillo, and John Walker for scoring the recall data. Finally, thanks to Jason R. Finley for guidance on how to calculate ω 2 partial .

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Correspondence to John F. Nestojko.

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Nestojko, J.F., Bui, D.C., Kornell, N. et al. Expecting to teach enhances learning and organization of knowledge in free recall of text passages. Mem Cogn 42, 1038–1048 (2014). https://doi.org/10.3758/s13421-014-0416-z

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Keywords

  • Memory
  • Recall
  • Text processing