So, what does this mean?
First of all, although the benefits of testing have been extensively reported, it appears that not all participants, at least among college students, do benefit directly from testing. In fact, for about 1/3 of our participants, retrieval practice made them worse. Does this mean we should stop incorporating testing as a pedagogical technique? Probably not – there are other benefits of retrieval practice (such as more frequent review of material, increased metacognitive awareness, and so on ). However, we would encourage students and learners of all ages to critically evaluate what works for them and what doesn’t.
Second, even among participants who do benefit from testing, the benefits vary. Testing might be more beneficial at some levels of learning than at others. When material is too easy or too difficult, the expected benefits might not be evident and frustration could result. Again, we recommend critically assessing which strategies are effective in which situations.
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