Testing Boosts Memory

From Science:Memory_1

Students who break into a cold sweat at the thought of a pop quiz might feel better once they learn about a side effect of test-taking: The practice appears to enhance memory, possibly even more than studying. What’s more, according to a new study, testing also helps students remember material that wasn’t on the exam in the first place.

Over the past several years, cognitive scientists have documented a phenomenon called the “testing effect,” in which taking a test, rather than studying, boosts an individual’s ability to remember the material later on. The research led psychology doctoral student Jason Chan and his colleagues at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, to wonder whether testing also affects memory for untested materials.

To test the theory, the team had 84 undergraduate students read a passage about toucans, a topic the researchers believed would be unfamiliar to psychology undergraduates. After reading the passage, one-third of the students were dismissed, one-third were asked to read an additional set of study materials that covered the same information as the original passage, and one-third were asked to take a brief short-answer test on the original material. The next day, all participants returned to take a final short-answer test, which included questions from the previous day’s brief test as well as new questions.   Students who took the test the day before scored, on average, 8% higher on the second-day test than did the two groups of students who did not take the initial test.

More here.