Taking tests enhances learning. But what happens when one cannot answer a test question— does an unsuccessful retrieval attempt impede future learning or enhance it? The authors examined this question using materials that ensured that retrieval attempts would be unsuccessful. In Experiments 1 and 2, participants were asked fictional general-knowledge questions (e.g., “What peace treaty ended the Calumet War?”). In Experiments 3– 6, participants were shown a cue word (e.g., whale) and were asked to guess a weak associate (e.g., mammal); the rare trials on which participants guessed the correct response were excluded from the analyses. In the test condition, participants attempted to answer the question before being shown the answer; in the read-only condition, the question and answer were presented together. Unsuccessful retrieval attempts enhanced learning with both types of materials. These results demonstrate that retrieval attempts enhance future learning; they also suggest that taking challenging tests—instead of avoiding errors—may be one key to effective learning.
SACME – Terminology in Continuing Education: A Hybrid Methodology for Improving the Use and Reporting of Interventions in Continuing Education
This study was commissioned to use expert opinion to improve the consistency of important educational terminology by describing the essential components of a set of educational interventions.