Publications by authors named "Shana K Carpenter"

32 Publications

The rich-get-richer effect: Prior knowledge predicts new learning of domain-relevant information.

J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn 2021 Feb 4. Epub 2021 Feb 4.

Department of Psychology.

When learning new information, students' prior knowledge related to that information will often vary. Prior research has not systematically explored how prior knowledge relates to learning of new, previously unknown information. Accordingly, the goal of the present research was to explore this relationship. In three experiments, students first completed a prior knowledge test over two domains (football and cooking) and then learned new information from these domains by answering questions and receiving feedback. Students also made a judgment of learning for each. To ensure that the learning was new (i.e., previously unknown) for all students, the to-be-learned information was false. Last, students completed a final test over the same questions from the learning phase. Prior knowledge in each domain was positively related to new learning for items from that domain but not from the other domain. Thus, the relationship between prior knowledge and new learning was domain specific, which we refer to as the effect. Prior knowledge was also positively related to the magnitude of judgments of learning. In Experiment 3, to explore a potential reason why prior knowledge is related to new learning, students rated their curiosity in learning each item prior to receiving feedback. Critically, students' curiosity judgments mediated the relationship between prior knowledge and new learning. These outcomes suggest that for high-knowledge learners, curiosity may be related to attention-based mechanisms that increase the effectiveness of encoding during feedback. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xlm0000996DOI Listing
February 2021

The effects of immediate versus delayed feedback on complex concept learning.

Q J Exp Psychol (Hove) 2021 Apr 15;74(4):786-799. Epub 2020 Dec 15.

The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA.

We report three experiments that examine whether immediate versus delayed feedback produce differential concept learning. Subjects were shown hypothetical experiment scenarios and were asked to determine whether each was a true experiment. Correct-answer feedback was used for all three experiments; Experiments 2 and 3 also included detailed explanations. In all three experiments, subjects who received immediate feedback were shown the correct answer after each response. In Experiments 1 and 2, subjects in the delayed feedback condition were shown feedback after responding to all of the scenarios. All subjects then completed a posttest with novel scenarios. Experiment 3 was three parts (each session was 2 days apart). Subjects in the immediate feedback condition completed the posttest on the second session; subjects in the delayed feedback condition were given feedback on the second session and completed the posttest on the third session. Although no posttest differences were observed between the feedback conditions in Experiments 1 and 2, a delayed feedback advantage was found in Experiment 3. We propose that longer intervals in delayed feedback (relative to shorter intervals) might allow learners to forget the incorrect hypotheses they form during learning, which might thereby enhance the processing of feedback.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1747021820977739DOI Listing
April 2021

Prequestions enhance learning, but only when they are remembered.

J Exp Psychol Appl 2020 Dec 18;26(4):705-716. Epub 2020 Jun 18.

Department of Psychology.

Answering prequestions benefits learning, but this benefit is mostly specific to material that was relevant to the prequestions (prequestioned material) and does not extend to other, nonprequestioned material. The current study examined whether this specific benefit is due to selective processing of prequestioned information during a learning experience. In 4 experiments, participants were assigned to a prequestion group or control group before viewing a 30-min video lecture. In Experiment 2, participants were instructed to take notes on information they thought was important during the video; in Experiment 3, the prequestion group was instructed to write down the answers to the prequestions; and in Experiment 4, the prequestion group was given the prequestions and instructed to answer them while viewing the video. On a later posttest in all experiments, the prequestion group outperformed the control group, but only for prequestioned material. Further, this benefit only occurred when the prequestion group successfully discovered the answers to the prequestions during the video by writing them down (Experiments 2 and 3) or circling them (Experiment 4). These results suggest that prequestion benefits depend on the degree to which participants can successfully notice and discover the answers to the prequestioned material during a video lecture. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xap0000296DOI Listing
December 2020

Facilitating transfer through incorrect examples and explanatory feedback.

Q J Exp Psychol (Hove) 2020 Sep 9;73(9):1340-1359. Epub 2020 Mar 9.

Department of Psychology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA, USA.

This article examines whether studying correct versus incorrect examples produces differential learning. A prediction that follows from behaviourism is that learning should be best from studying correct examples. A contrasting prediction is that incorrect examples can highlight a concept's properties that are missing in the example, and thereby enable concept learning. We test these ideas across two experiments, wherein subjects were shown hypothetical study scenarios and were asked to determine whether each was a true experiment. In Experiment 1, some subjects were only presented correct examples, some were only presented incorrect examples, and others were presented both. In addition, example type was crossed with feedback type: Some subjects were given and some were not given any feedback; a control condition was also included, wherein subjects were not shown any study scenarios. All subjects completed a posttest involving novel scenarios; some questions asked subjects to indicate whether they were true experiments (classification questions), and some asked them to specify what was lacking in the design or to indicate how it could be fixed (application questions). Experiment 2 used a similar design, but compared explanatory feedback with corrective feedback. In both experiments, as long as some form of feedback was provided, subjects in the mixed example condition achieved the best classification performance. Furthermore, subjects in the incorrect and mixed example conditions performed best on application questions, particularly when explanatory feedback was provided. These findings offer insights into the mechanisms that might underlie learning from incorrect examples.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1747021820909454DOI Listing
September 2020

Is a picture really worth a thousand words? Evaluating contributions of fluency and analytic processing in metacognitive judgements for pictures in foreign language vocabulary learning.

Q J Exp Psychol (Hove) 2020 Feb 10;73(2):211-224. Epub 2019 Oct 10.

The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA.

Previous research shows that participants are overconfident in their ability to learn foreign language vocabulary from pictures compared with English translations. The current study explored whether this tendency is due to processing fluency or beliefs about learning. Using self-paced study of Swahili words paired with either picture cues or English translation cues, picture cues garnered higher confidence judgements but not faster study times, and this was true whether judgements of learning were made after a delay (Experiment 1) or immediately (Experiment 2). In Experiment 3, when participants learned Swahili words with only one type of cue (pictures or English translations) and then estimated which one would be more effective for learning, the majority of participants believed pictures would be more effective regardless of whether they had experienced those cues during learning. Experiment 4 showed the same results when participants had experienced neither type of cue during a learning phase. These results suggest that metacognitive judgements in foreign language vocabulary learning are driven more by students' beliefs about learning than by processing fluency as reflected in self-paced study times.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1747021819879416DOI Listing
February 2020

Using prequestions to enhance learning from reading passages: the roles of question type and structure building ability.

Memory 2019 10 15;27(9):1204-1213. Epub 2019 Jul 15.

b Department of Psychology, Wake Forest University , Winston-Salem , NC , USA.

Answering questions before learning something ("prequestions") enhances learning. However, these benefits usually occur for information that was asked in the prequestions (i.e. prequestioned material), and not for non-prequestioned material. We reasoned that this narrow benefit may be due to the fact that studies typically use fairly simple prequestions that have a clear answer within one part of the learning material - . We explored the effects of that required participants to make connections across different parts of a reading passage. Experiment 1 showed the usual benefit of isolative prequestions on prequestioned but not on non-prequestioned material, but no benefit of integrative prequestions. However, in Experiment 2 when participants were given instructions to seek the answers while reading, integrative prequestions benefited learning of both prequestioned and non-prequestioned material. Individual differences in structure building positively predicted performance, but did not interact with the effects of prequestions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09658211.2019.1641209DOI Listing
October 2019

Effects of lecture fluency and instructor experience on students' judgments of learning, test scores, and evaluations of instructors.

J Exp Psychol Appl 2020 Mar 6;26(1):26-39. Epub 2019 Jun 6.

Department of Psychology.

Students' judgments of learning (JOLs) are often driven by cues that are not diagnostic of actual learning. One powerful cue that can mislead JOLs is lecture fluency-the degree to which an instructor delivers a smooth, confident, and well-polished lecture. Lecture fluency often inflates JOLs, but has no effect on actual learning. The limited research so far, however, has not systematically explored the role of instructor experience, which may moderate the effects of lecture fluency. In two experiments, students viewed a video-recorded lecture of a fluent or disfluent lecture, and beforehand were informed that the instructor was experienced or inexperienced. Afterward, students made a JOL estimating how much they had learned, answered several evaluation questions, and took a test. Significant effects of lecture fluency, but not instructor experience, occurred whereby lecture fluency inflated JOLs but not test scores. As well, students more often based their JOLs on lecture fluency than instructor experience. The fluent lecture received more favorable evaluations than the disfluent lecture, including students' increased interest in the material and willingness to attend class, suggesting that fluent instruction might benefit learning in indirect ways that are not reflected in test scores. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xap0000234DOI Listing
March 2020

Would disfluency by any other name still be disfluent? Examining the disfluency effect with cursive handwriting.

Mem Cognit 2018 10;46(7):1109-1126

Iowa State University, Ames, IA, USA.

When exposed to words presented under perceptually disfluent conditions (e.g., words written in Haettenschweiler font), participants have difficulty initially recognizing the words. Those same words, though, may be better remembered later than words presented in standard type font. This counterintuitive finding is referred to as the disfluency effect. Evidence for this disfluency effect, however, has been mixed, suggesting possible moderating factors. Using a recognition memory task, level of disfluency was examined as a moderating factor across three experiments using a novel cursive manipulation that varied on degree of legibility (easy-to-read cursive vs. hard-to-read cursive). In addition, list type and retention interval between study and test were manipulated. Across all three experiments, cursive words engendered better memory than type-print words. This memory effect persisted across varied list designs (blocked vs. mixed) and a longer (24-hour) retention interval. A small-scale meta-analysis across the three experiments suggested that the cursive disfluency effect is moderated by level of disfluency: easy-to-read cursive words tended to be better remembered than hard-to-read cursive words. Taken together, these results challenge extant accounts of the disfluency effect. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/s13421-018-0824-6DOI Listing
October 2018

Hypercorrection of high-confidence errors in the classroom.

Memory 2018 11 19;26(10):1379-1384. Epub 2018 May 19.

a Department of Psychology , Iowa State University , Ames , IA , USA.

People often have erroneous knowledge about the world that is firmly entrenched in memory and endorsed with high confidence. Although strong errors in memory would seem difficult to "un-learn," evidence suggests that errors are more likely to be corrected through feedback when they are originally endorsed with high confidence compared to low confidence. This hypercorrection effect has been predominantly studied in laboratory settings with general knowledge (i.e., trivia) questions, however, and has not been systematically explored in authentic classroom contexts. In the current study, college students in an introductory horticulture class answered questions about the course content, rated their confidence in their answers, received feedback of the correct answers, and then later completed a posttest. Results revealed a significant hypercorrection effect, along with a tendency for students with higher prior knowledge of the material to express higher confidence in, and in turn more effective correction of, their error responses.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09658211.2018.1477164DOI Listing
November 2018

The effects of prequestions on classroom learning.

J Exp Psychol Appl 2018 03;24(1):34-42

Department of Psychology, Iowa State University.

Studies have shown that prequestions-asking students questions before they learn something-benefit memory retention. Prequestions would seem to be a useful technique for enhancing students' learning in their courses, but classroom investigations of prequestions have been sparse. In the current study, students from an introductory psychology course were randomly assigned to receive prequestions over each upcoming lesson (prequestion group) or to not receive prequestions (control group). At the end of class, students in the prequestion group remembered the material better than students in the control group, but this benefit was specific to the information that was asked about in the prequestions. When memory for other, nonprequestioned portions of the lesson were tested at the end of class, the prequestion group performed similarly to the control group. On a follow-up quiz 1 week later, both groups showed a memory advantage for material that was tested at the end of class 1 week prior, compared with information from the same lesson that was never tested. However, this benefit was comparable between the prequestion group and the control group, suggesting that students benefit from retrieval practice, but prequestions add little, if any, enhancement to this effect. (PsycINFO Database Record
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xap0000145DOI Listing
March 2018

Prequestions do not enhance the benefits of retrieval in a STEM classroom.

Cogn Res Princ Implic 2017 25;2(1):42. Epub 2017 Oct 25.

Department of Genetics, Development, and Cell Biology, Iowa State University, 3258 Molecular Biology Building, 2437 Pammel Drive, Ames, IA 50011-1079 USA.

Answering questions before a learning episode-"prequestions"-can enhance memory for that information. A number of studies have explored this effect in the laboratory; however, few studies have examined prequestions in a classroom setting. In the current study, the effects of prequestions were examined in an undergraduate course in chemical engineering. At the start of several class meetings, students were provided with a prequestion to answer about the upcoming lesson, and then were asked to provide ratings of confidence in their answers, familiarity with the content in the prequestion, and how much of the assigned reading they had completed. At the end of class, students were given the same question again (postquestion), along with a different question from the same lesson (new question). On a quiz at the end of each week, students were given the postquestions and new questions again, in addition to never-before-seen questions (quiz-only questions) from the same lessons. Performance on questions at the end of class revealed no difference in performance for postquestions vs. new questions. Although weekly quiz performance revealed an effect of retrieval practice-superior memory for material tested at the end of class (postquestions and new questions) compared to material not tested (quiz-only questions)-there was no difference in weekly quiz performance on postquestions vs. new questions. These results suggest that retrieval practice is beneficial to learning in the classroom. However, prequestions do not appear to enhance learning, nor to enhance the effects of retrieval practice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s41235-017-0078-zDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5655599PMC
October 2017

Study strategies and beliefs about learning as a function of academic achievement and achievement goals.

Memory 2018 05 2;26(5):683-690. Epub 2017 Nov 2.

d Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering , Iowa State University , Ames , IA , USA.

Prior research by Hartwig and Dunlosky [(2012). Study strategies of college students: Are self-testing and scheduling related to achievement? Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 19(1), 126-134] has demonstrated that beliefs about learning and study strategies endorsed by students are related to academic achievement: higher performing students tend to choose more effective study strategies and are more aware of the benefits of self-testing. We examined whether students' achievement goals, independent of academic achievement, predicted beliefs about learning and endorsement of study strategies. We administered Hartwig and Dunlosky's survey, along with the Achievement Goals Questionnaire [Elliot, A. J., & McGregor, H. A. (2001). A 2 × 2 achievement goal framework. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 80, 501-519] to a large undergraduate biology course. Similar to results by Hartwig and Dunlosky, we found that high-performing students (relative to low-performing students) were more likely to endorse self-testing, less likely to cram, and more likely to plan a study schedule ahead of time. Independent of achievement, however, achievement goals were stronger predictors of certain study behaviours. In particular, avoidance goals (e.g., fear of failure) coincided with increased use of cramming and the tendency to be driven by impending deadlines. Results suggest that individual differences in student achievement, as well as the underlying reasons for achievement, are important predictors of students' approaches to studying.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09658211.2017.1397175DOI Listing
May 2018

Students' Use of Optional Online Reviews and Its Relationship to Summative Assessment Outcomes in Introductory Biology.

CBE Life Sci Educ 2017 ;16(2)

Department of Genetics, Development, and Cell Biology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011

Retrieval practice has been shown to produce significant enhancements in student learning of course information, but the extent to which students make use of retrieval to learn information on their own is unclear. In the current study, students in a large introductory biology course were provided with optional online review questions that could be accessed as Test questions (requiring students to answer the questions before receiving feedback) or as Read questions (providing students with the question and correct answer up-front). Students more often chose to access the questions as Test compared with Read, and students who used the Test questions scored significantly higher on subsequent exams compared with students who used Read questions or did not access the questions at all. Following an in-class presentation of superior exam performance following use of the Test questions, student use of Test questions increased significantly for the remainder of the term. These results suggest that practice questions can be an effective tool for enhancing student achievement in biology and that informing students about performance-based outcomes coincides with increased use of retrieval practice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1187/cbe.16-06-0205DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5459241PMC
May 2018

The effect of instructor fluency on students' perceptions of instructors, confidence in learning, and actual learning.

J Exp Psychol Appl 2016 06 4;22(2):161-72. Epub 2016 Feb 4.

Department of Psychology, Iowa State University.

Students' judgments of their own learning are often misled by perceptions of fluency-the ease with which information is presented during learning. Lectures represent important learning experiences that contain variations in fluency, but have not been extensively studied. In the current study, students watched a 22-min videotaped lecture that was delivered by the same instructor in either a fluent (strong, confident, and deliberate) manner, or in a disfluent (uncertain, hesitant, and disengaged) manner. Students then predicted their score on an upcoming test on the information, rated the instructor on traditional evaluation measures, and took a multiple-choice test on the information immediately (Experiment 1), after 10 min (Experiment 2), or after 1 day (Experiment 3). The fluent instructor was rated significantly higher than the disfluent instructor, but test scores did not consistently differ between the 2 conditions. Though students did not indicate higher confidence overall in learning from a fluent instructor, Experiment 3 found that when participants base their confidence on the instructor, those in the fluent condition were more likely to be overconfident. These findings indicate that instructor fluency leads to higher ratings of instructors and can lead to higher confidence, but it does not necessarily lead to better learning. (PsycINFO Database Record
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/xap0000077DOI Listing
June 2016

Retrieval enhances route knowledge acquisition, but only when movement errors are prevented.

J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn 2015 Sep 12;41(5):1540-7. Epub 2015 Jan 12.

Department of Psychology, Iowa State University.

Studies of the testing effect have shown that retrieval significantly improves learning. However, most of these studies have been restricted to simple types of declarative verbal knowledge. Five experiments were designed to explore whether testing improves acquisition of route knowledge, which has a procedural component consisting of actions to be performed at decision points (Golledge, 1991). Participants learned a route through a series of connected rooms in a virtual building. Each room contained multiple doors, only one of which led to the next room. During encoding, participants were shown the correct sequence of doors in a manner similar to global positioning system (GPS) navigation guidance. During subsequent exposures to the route, participants were either shown the correct sequence again or had to recall the sequence from memory. Participants later completed a final test in which they traversed the route without guidance or feedback. Testing improved route memory compared to studying, but only when participants were given feedback about the correct door prior to moving through the room. When feedback occurred after moving to an incorrect door, testing resulted in worse performance compared to studying. These findings parallel work on errorless learning, in which procedural skills are acquired more quickly when errors are minimized during learning.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0038685DOI Listing
September 2015

Does the benefit of testing depend on lag, and if so, why? Evaluating the elaborative retrieval hypothesis.

Mem Cognit 2015 May;43(4):619-33

Department of Psychology, Kent State University, P.O. Box 5190, Kent, OH, 44242-0001, USA,

Despite the voluminous literatures on testing effects and lag effects, surprisingly few studies have examined whether testing and lag effects interact, and no prior research has directly investigated why this might be the case. To this end, in the present research we evaluated the elaborative retrieval hypothesis (ERH) as a possible explanation for why testing effects depend on lag. Elaborative retrieval involves the activation of cue-related information during the long-term memory search for the target. If the target is successfully retrieved, this additional information is encoded with the cue-target pair to yield a more elaborated memory trace that enhances target access on a later memory test. The ERH states that the degree of elaborative retrieval during practice is greater when testing takes place after a long rather than a short lag (whereas elaborative retrieval during restudy is minimal at either lag). Across two experiments, final-test performance was greater following practice testing than following restudy only, and this memorial advantage was greater with long-lag than with short-lag practice. The final test also included novel cue conditions used to diagnose the degree of elaborative retrieval during practice. The overall pattern of performance in these conditions provided consistent evidence for the ERH, with more extensive elaborative retrieval during long- than during short-lag practice testing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/s13421-014-0477-zDOI Listing
May 2015

Waiting for feedback helps if you want to know the answer: the role of curiosity in the delay-of-feedback benefit.

Mem Cognit 2014 Nov;42(8):1273-84

Department of Psychology, Iowa State University, W112 Lagomarcino Hall, Ames, IA, 50011, USA.

When participants answer a test question and then receive feedback of the correct answer, studies have shown that the feedback is more effective when it is delayed by several seconds rather than provided immediately (e.g., Brackbill & Kappy, Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 55, 14-18, 1962; Schroth, Contemporary Educational Psychology, 17, 78-82, 1992). Despite several demonstrations of this delay-of-feedback benefit, a theoretical explanation for this finding has not yet been developed. The present study tested the hypothesis that brief delays of feedback are beneficial because they encourage anticipation of the upcoming feedback. In Experiment 1, participants answered obscure trivia questions, and before receiving the answer, they rated their curiosity to know the answer. The answer was then provided either immediately or after a 4-s delay. A later final test over the same questions revealed a significant delay-of-feedback benefit, but only for items that had been rated high in curiosity. Experiment 2 replicated this same effect and showed that the delay-of-feedback benefit only occurs when feedback is provided after a variable, unpredictable time duration (either 2, 4, or 8 s) rather than after a constant duration (always 4 s). These findings demonstrate that the delay-of-feedback effect appears to be greatest under conditions in which participants are curious to know the answer and when the answer is provided after an unpredictable time interval.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/s13421-014-0441-yDOI Listing
November 2014

Appearances can be deceiving: instructor fluency increases perceptions of learning without increasing actual learning.

Psychon Bull Rev 2013 Dec;20(6):1350-6

Department of Psychology, Iowa State University, W112 Lagomarcino Hall, Ames, IA, 50011, USA,

The present study explored the effects of lecture fluency on students' metacognitive awareness and regulation. Participants watched one of two short videos of an instructor explaining a scientific concept. In the fluent video, the instructor stood upright, maintained eye contact, and spoke fluidly without notes. In the disfluent video, the instructor slumped, looked away, and spoke haltingly with notes. After watching the video, participants in Experiment 1 were asked to predict how much of the content they would later be able to recall, and participants in Experiment 2 were given a text-based script of the video to study. Perceived learning was significantly higher for the fluent instructor than for the disfluent instructor (Experiment 1), although study time was not significantly affected by lecture fluency (Experiment 2). In both experiments, the fluent instructor was rated significantly higher than the disfluent instructor on traditional instructor evaluation questions, such as preparedness and effectiveness. However, in both experiments, lecture fluency did not significantly affect the amount of information learned. Thus, students' perceptions of their own learning and an instructor's effectiveness appear to be based on lecture fluency and not on actual learning.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/s13423-013-0442-zDOI Listing
December 2013

The effects of interleaving versus blocking on foreign language pronunciation learning.

Mem Cognit 2013 Jul;41(5):671-82

Department of Psychology, Iowa State University, W112 Lagomarcino Hall, Ames, IA 50011, USA.

Many studies have shown that students learn better when they are given repeated exposures to different concepts in a way that is shuffled or interleaved, rather than blocked (e.g., Rohrer Educational Psychology Review, 24, 355-367, 2012). The present study explored the effects of interleaving versus blocking on learning French pronunciations. Native English speakers learned several French words that conformed to specific pronunciation rules (e.g., the long "o" sound formed by the letter combination "eau," as in bateau), and these rules were presented either in blocked fashion (bateau, carreau, fardeau . . . mouton, genou, verrou . . . tandis, verglas, admis) or in interleaved fashion (bateau, mouton, tandis, carreau, genou, verglas . . .). Blocking versus interleaving was manipulated within subjects (Experiments 1-3) or between subjects (Experiment 4), and participants' pronunciation proficiency was later tested through multiple-choice tests (Experiments 1, 2, and 4) or a recall test (Experiment 3). In all experiments, blocking benefited the learning of pronunciations more than did interleaving, and this was true whether participants learned only 4 words per rule (Experiments 1-3) or 15 words per rule (Experiment 4). Theoretical implications of these findings are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/s13421-012-0291-4DOI Listing
July 2013

Tests enhance retention and transfer of spatial learning.

Psychon Bull Rev 2012 Jun;19(3):443-8

Department of Psychology, Iowa State University, W112 Lagomarcino Hall, Ames, IA 50011, USA.

Many studies have reported that tests are beneficial for learning (e.g., Roediger & Karpicke, 2006a). However, the majority of studies on the testing effect have been limited to a combination of relatively simple verbal tasks and final tests that assessed memory for the same material that had originally been tested. The present study explored whether testing is beneficial for complex spatial memory and whether these benefits hold for both retention and transfer. After encoding a three-dimensional layout of objects presented in a virtual environment, participants completed a judgment-of-relative-direction (JRD) task in which they imagined standing at one object, facing a second object, and pointed to a third object from the imagined perspective. Some participants completed this task by relying on memory for the previously encoded layout (i.e., the test conditions), whereas for others the location of the third object was identified ahead of time, so that retrieval was not required (i.e., the study condition). On a final test assessing their JRD performance, the participants who learned through test outperformed those who learned through study. This was true even when corrective feedback was not provided on the initial JRD task and when the final test assessed memory from vantage points that had never been practiced during the initial JRD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/s13423-012-0221-2DOI Listing
June 2012

Learning new vocabulary in German: the effects of inferring word meanings, type of feedback, and time of test.

Psychon Bull Rev 2012 Feb;19(1):81-6

Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, Ames, IA, USA.

In the present study, introductory-level German students read a simplified story and learned the meanings of new German words by reading English translations in marginal glosses versus trying to infer (i.e., guess) their translations. Students who inferred translations were given feedback in English or in German, or no feedback at all. Although immediate retention of new vocabulary was better for students who used marginal glosses, students who inferred word meanings and then received English feedback forgot fewer translations over time. Plausible but inaccurate inferences (i.e., those that made sense in the context) were more likely to be corrected by students who received English feedback as compared with German feedback, providing support for the beneficial effects of mediating information. Implausible inaccurate inferences, however, were more likely to be corrected on the delayed vocabulary test by students who received German feedback as compared with English feedback, possibly because of the additional contextual support provided by German feedback.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/s13423-011-0185-7DOI Listing
February 2012

Are pictures good for learning new vocabulary in a foreign language? Only if you think they are not.

J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn 2012 Jan 25;38(1):92-101. Epub 2011 Jul 25.

Department of Psychology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA.

The current study explored whether new words in a foreign language are learned better from pictures than from native language translations. In both between-subjects and within-subject designs, Swahili words were not learned better from pictures than from English translations (Experiments 1-3). Judgments of learning revealed that participants exhibited greater overconfidence in their ability to recall a Swahili word from a picture than from a translation (Experiments 2-3), and Swahili words were also considered easier to process when paired with pictures rather than translations (Experiment 4). When this overconfidence bias was eliminated through retrieval practice (Experiment 2) and instructions warning participants to not be overconfident (Experiment 3), Swahili words were learned better from pictures than from translations. It appears, therefore, that pictures can facilitate learning of foreign language vocabulary--as long as participants are not too overconfident in the power of a picture to help them learn a new word.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0024828DOI Listing
January 2012

Semantic information activated during retrieval contributes to later retention: Support for the mediator effectiveness hypothesis of the testing effect.

J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn 2011 Nov 27;37(6):1547-52. Epub 2011 Jun 27.

Department of Psychology, Iowa State University, W112 Lagomarcino Hall, Ames, IA 50011-3180, USA.

Previous research has proposed that tests enhance retention more than do restudy opportunities because they promote the effectiveness of mediating information--that is, a word or concept that links a cue to a target (Pyc & Rawson, 2010). Although testing has been shown to promote retention of mediating information that participants were asked to generate, it is unknown what type of mediators are spontaneously activated during testing and how these contribute to later retention. In the current study, participants learned cue-target pairs through testing (e.g., Mother: _____) or restudying (e.g., Mother: Child) and were later tested on these items in addition to a never-before-presented item that was strongly associated with the cue (e.g., Father)--that is, the semantic mediator. Compared with participants who learned the items through restudying, those who learned the items through testing exhibited higher false alarm rates to semantic mediators on a final recognition test (Experiment 1) and were also more likely to recall the correct target from the semantic mediator on a final cued recall test (Experiment 2). These results support the mediator effectiveness hypothesis and demonstrate that semantically related information may be 1 type of natural mediator that is activated during testing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0024140DOI Listing
November 2011

Delaying feedback by three seconds benefits retention of face-name pairs: the role of active anticipatory processing.

Mem Cognit 2011 Oct;39(7):1211-21

Department of Psychology, Iowa State University, W112 Lagomarcino Hall, Ames, IA 50011, USA.

In three experiments, we used face-name learning to examine the puzzling feedback delay benefit--the tendency for feedback to be more effective when it is delayed rather than presented immediately. In Experiment 1, we found that feedback presented after a 3-s blank screen was more effective than feedback presented immediately, even after controlling for the exposure time to the material. In Experiment 2, we replicated the benefit of a feedback delay even when participants were given extra time to view the feedback or to try to retrieve the answer, indicating that this benefit is specific to a delay before feedback. Finally, in Experiment 3, we showed that the 3-s delay is beneficial only if it involves a blank screen, not if the delay is filled with an unrelated distracter task. These results suggest that the feedback delay benefit in this paradigm could arise from an active anticipatory process that occurs during the delay.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/s13421-011-0092-1DOI Listing
October 2011

Cue strength as a moderator of the testing effect: the benefits of elaborative retrieval.

J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn 2009 Nov;35(6):1563-9

Department of Psychology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011-3180, USA.

The current study explored the elaborative retrieval hypothesis as an explanation for the testing effect: the tendency for a memory test to enhance retention more than restudying. In particular, the retrieval process during testing may activate elaborative information related to the target response, thereby increasing the chances that activation of any of this information will facilitate later retrieval of the target. In a test of this view, participants learned cue-target pairs, which were strongly associated (e.g., Toast: Bread) or weakly associated (e.g., Basket: Bread), through either a cued recall test (Toast: _____) or a restudy opportunity (Toast: Bread). A final test requiring free recall of the targets revealed that tested items were retained better than restudied items, and although strong cues facilitated recall of tested items initially, items recalled from weak cues were retained better over time, such that this advantage was eliminated or reversed at the time of the final test. Restudied items were retained at similar rates on the final test regardless of the strength of the cue-target relationship. These results indicate that the activation of elaborative information-which would occur to a greater extent during testing than restudying--may be one mechanism that underlies the testing effect.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0017021DOI Listing
November 2009

The effects of tests on learning and forgetting.

Mem Cognit 2008 Mar;36(2):438-48

Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0109, USA.

In three experiments, we investigated whether memory tests enhance learning and reduce forgetting more than additional study opportunities do. Subjects learned obscure facts (Experiments 1 and 2) or Swahili-English word pairs (Experiment 3) by either completing a test with feedback (test/study) or receiving an additional study opportunity (study). Recall was tested after 5 min or 1, 2, 7, 14, or 42 days. We explored forgetting by means of an ANOVA and also by fitting a power function to the data. In all three experiments, testing enhanced overall recall more than restudying did. According to the power function, in two out of three experiments, testing also reduced forgetting more than restudying did, although this was not always the case according to the ANOVA. We discuss the implications of these results both for approaches to measuring forgetting and for the use of tests in promoting long-term retention. The stimuli used in these experiments may be found at www.psychonomic.org/archive.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/mc.36.2.438DOI Listing
March 2008

Testing beyond words: using tests to enhance visuospatial map learning.

Psychon Bull Rev 2007 Jun;14(3):474-8

Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0109, USA.

Psychological research shows that learning can be powerfully enhanced through testing, but this finding has so far been confined to memory tasks requiring verbal responses. We explored whether testing can enhance learning of visuospatial information in maps. Fifty subjects each studied two maps, one through conventional study, and the other through computer-prompted tests. For the tests, the subjects were repeatedly presented with the same map with one feature deleted (e.g., a road or a river), and they tried to covertly recall the missing feature and its location. Subjects' map drawings after 30 min were significantly better for maps learned through tests in comparison with maps learned through the same amount of time devoted to conventional study. These results suggest that the testing effect is not limited to the types of memory that require discrete, verbal responses, and that utilizing covert retrievals may allow the effect to be extended to a variety of complex, nonverbal learning tasks.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/bf03194092DOI Listing
June 2007

Enhancing learning and retarding forgetting: choices and consequences.

Psychon Bull Rev 2007 Apr;14(2):187-93

Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0109, USA.

Our research on learning enhancement has been focusing on the consequences for learning and forgetting of some of the more obvious and concrete choices that arise in instruction, including questions such as these: How does spacing of practice affect retention of information over significant retention intervals (up to 1 year)? Do spacing effects generalize beyond recall of verbal materials? Is feedback needed to promote learning, and must it be immediate? Although retrieval practice has been found to enhance learning in comparison with additional study, does it actually reduce the rate of forgetting? Can retrieval practice effects be extended to nonverbal materials? We suggest that as we begin to find answers to these questions, it should become possible for cognitive psychology to offer nonobvious advice that can be applied in a variety of instructional contexts to facilitate learning and reduce forgetting.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/bf03194050DOI Listing
April 2007

The Wickelgren power law and the Ebbinghaus savings function.

Psychol Sci 2007 Feb;18(2):133-4

University of California, San Diego, CA 92093, USA.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9280.2007.01862.xDOI Listing
February 2007

What types of learning are enhanced by a cued recall test?

Psychon Bull Rev 2006 Oct;13(5):826-30

Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla 92093-0109, USA.

In two experiments, we investigated what types of learning benefit from a cued recall test. After initial exposure to a word pair (A+B), subjects experienced either an intervening cued recall test (A-->?) with feedback, or a restudy presentation (A-->B). The final test could be cued recall in the same (A-->?) or opposite (?-->B) direction, or free recall of just the cues (Recall As) or just the targets (Recall Bs). All final tests revealed a benefit for testing as opposed to restudying. Tests produced a direct benefit for information that was retrieved on the intervening test (B). This benefit also "spilled over" to facilitate recall of information that was present on the test but not retrieved (A). Both theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3758/bf03194004DOI Listing
October 2006