Teaching Tip: Tests as a Remembering Tool
Many educators believe that the only value of tests is to evaluate what students have learned and to assign grades. Here is recent research that demonstrates the value of tests as a remembering tool.
Researchers had three groups of college students read a science passage. After reading the passage, one group studied the passage in four consecutive five-minute sessions (i.e., repeated study). The second group arranged information from the passage into a concept map. The third group took a retrieval practice test in which they wrote what they remembered about the passage. They then reread the passage and again took a retrieval practice test. A week later all groups were given a short-answer test based on the original science passage. The test assessed their ability to recall facts and draw logical conclusions.
To the surprise of the researchers and students alike, the group of students who had taken retrieval tests retained about 50% more of the information that did the other two groups.
The results of this study show the value of testing students on their reading assignments to improve their retention of the information they read.