Posts Tagged ‘Testing’

Is Recalling Always Good?–The Possible Dangers of Recalling

November 23rd, 2014 3 comments


The act of recalling–we do it so casually and frequently without much thought; whether it’s recalling questions from an exam when you are discussing with friends questions you couldn’t figure out, or subconsciously remembering what the acquaintance was like while hearing rumors about him/her. Recalling might not be all so good–at least not as much as we might think it is. We don’t usually question the accuracy of the information we take in. However, it turns out to be that the accuracy of information becomes important, especially after the act of recalling (retrieving any information from memory). Through recalling an event, we enhance our ability to take in new information relevant to the event; if the new information is an accurate account of the event, our accuracy on the memory of the event is enhanced, but if the information is misleading or wrong, we take in the misleading information into our memory as well as we do of an accurate event. In the case of discussing an exam question with a friend, if the friend gives you inaccurate information, your possibly accurate prior memory could be “overwritten” with the wrong information your friend just provided. And in the case of hearing a rumor about an acquaintance, you could have a positive memory about the person before, but because of the rumor, which might be right or wrong, your memory could paint a new picture of him/her over the positive image that you used to have. Without being aware, we are making ourselves susceptible to taking in misinformation through just a simple act of recall. This could become very problematic at times; especially in eyewitness testimonies where their account makes a huge impact on what could be decided in court.

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Could The Experts Be Wrong?!

May 18th, 2014 4 comments

In the field of cognitive psychology, it is widely believed that testing is the best way for a person to learn. Many studies have been conducted to establish the differences in retention between initial testing and the restudying of information. These studies found that final recall has greatly supported that when people are retested they retain more of the learned information. During testing, people make meaningful connections within their minds to understand what they are learning, this allows for more comprehensive recall later on. Students are forced to process the information deeper during testing than when they are simply rereading the information. This strategy has been something that many psychologists have been trying to get implemented into school systems and teaching styles. As a student, having to be tested all the time is not something I want. I also frequently find myself questioning if it really is as beneficial as the so-called experts say. There are some things that, no matter how many times I am tested on it and how many times I study it, I am simply unable to understand. A recent study by Bridger and Mecklinger questioned the benefits of this testing idea, and found that it may only work with certain kinds of information. Their research brought to light the idea of errorful learning, which is similar to testing yourself as a study method, and errorless learning, which is more like reviewing information as a study method. They attempted to draw attention to the fact that errorful learning may not be the most beneficial strategy to long-term retention.



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Categories: Education Tags: ,

Don’t Let It Go: How To Study For Finals Using Testing

May 2nd, 2014 5 comments

The clock signals the hour. Your palms are sweaty as your professor hands out your final exam. You take a deep breath and look down at the questions in front of you only to realize that you have no idea what the answer is to the first question. Has this ever happened to you? I know it’s happened to me more times than I care to admit. I’ve even had exams that I’ve spent hours studying for and found my brain completely blank when finally confronted with the exam. As a result, I’ve been on the search for the best study strategies to combat these final exam blues.

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Categories: Attention, Education, Memory Tags:

Tests Don’t Have to be Bad!

December 9th, 2013 3 comments

Most people don’t enjoy taking tests. Tests mean stress, late nights, and coffee – lots and lots of coffee.  However, not all tests have to be bad. What if, in fact, some tests were helpful?

Testing, when used as a study method, benefits later retention – a phenomenon known as the testing effect (Roediger & Karpicke, 2006). In other words, students who take tests, rather than simply rereading their notes, while studying tend to do better on their actual exams (Roediger & Karpicke, 2006).

So what does this mean? Instead of merely rereading your notes or textbook, try taking some practice tests. Look for tests that offer immediate feedback, as immediate feedback provides even greater benefits in terms of performance on later assessments (Roediger & Butler, 2013).  It doesn’t matter if you find a short answer or multiple-choice practice test; as long as you answer questions and receive feedback, you will be studying and absorbing the material more effectively than if you were just rereading (Smith & Karpicke, 2013). Search the textbook and its website. You’re bound to find something!  Read more…

Categories: Education, Memory Tags: ,

Why those who force you to take exams are not actually terrible people

December 6th, 2013 3 comments

It’s not exactly a secret: when presented with the choice, students overwhelmingly avoid testing and exams like the plague. It’s not something we all met up and agreed upon; but rather a fundamental truth that we feel in hearts, bodies, minds and souls: we would rather get gingivitis than study for and take an exam. I’m sure many professors can begrudgingly attest to this.

However, like children that don’t want to eat their vegetables, we students can’t deny the overwhelming research that has shown that testing is, in fact, one of the best approaches to boosting memory. Unlike children that don’t want to eat their vegetables, though, I will not make you sit at the dinner table until you agree that you love taking tests. I will, however, provide you with several reasons why you should learn to love them (or even just kind of tolerate them), extracted from recent findings by Dunlosky et al (2013).

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Categories: Education, Memory Tags: ,

Studying for finals? Best study tip: RETRIEVAL

November 26th, 2013 6 comments

With finals week fast approaching, are you starting to think about how you are going to study for your exams?

Well, Karpicke and Grimaldi (2012) argues, in their article, “Retrieval-Based Learning: A perspective for enhancing meaningful learning”, that retrieval is the best way to learn, and hence prepare for exams.

What is retrieval? Retrieval is the concept of active recalling of existing memory. Therefore, a retrieval-based learning/studying would require one to actively recall information repeatedly after going through the material once, as opposed to just reading through the material multiple times.

Learning is usually thought to be information that is inquired, understood, and stored in our memory, and sometimes the idea of applying this knowledge with pre-existing knowledge. Retrieval is very rarely known to be the key process in understanding and promoting learning. Retrieval is known to be a tool for assessing knowledge and a medium to test how much learning has taken place.

Karpicke and Grimaldi use several studies to demonstrate that retrieval of knowledge is actually a better way to learn and retain information. Below are two of the many studies to demonstrate this hypothesis, explained in a way that might be similar to how many of us study.

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Categories: Education, Memory Tags: ,

Listen to Miley Cyrus then study or Study while listening to Miley Cyrus?

November 23rd, 2013 4 comments

           Forgetting, which is defined as an inability to remember something, occurs daily. We forget a variety of things such as where we parked our cars, what our old and new cellphone numbers are, who Paul Walker was, the color of our parents’ cars and when assignments are due. Forgetting is a common occurrence and we have invented numerous methods to help us remember important information. However, writing down information does not always help, especially in circumstances like interviews or exams where we have to rely on our memory. When you try to remember an event that is filed in your memory, and you can’t remember, it seems like it has disappeared or was never there to begin with. Despite this feeling, the information is stored in long-term memory, but at that time you cannot access it. Most students can relate to this experience, because sometime after an exam we immediately remember the answer to a certain question—sometimes just a second after submitting the examination paper. Instead of relying on written information, we can increase the probability of remembering stored material by engaging in challenging learning practices, such as self-quizzes.

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“Practice makes Perfect”–but what type of practice?

November 19th, 2013 1 comment

Students spend an immense amount of their time studying—after all, have you ever taken a class in hopes of failing the final exam?  Most students study class material before a test to try and avoid this fate.  Despite making an effort to do this, almost anyone who has ever been in school can recall a time when they spent hours, days, or even weeks studying, only to arrive at a test and find that they are unable to answer any of the questions.  While this can be very frustrating, it also shows that the amount of time you spend studying is not the only thing that determines how well you will do on a test.  In order to determine which other factors might play a part, psychologist Andrew Butler conducted a study at Washington University in St. Louis that looked at different studying techniques and how they affect test performance.  More specifically, Butler compared test-enhanced learning, which involves studying by being tested on the material at hand (like testing yourself with flashcards) to repeated restudying of information (picture yourself reading a textbook page over and over again).

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Categories: Education, Memory Tags: ,

Test Me Now, I’ll Thank You Later

April 29th, 2013 3 comments

I wish I could have taken a picture of every student’s face that walked into Mr. B’s middle school history class on Friday morning. It was always a struggle to get up on Fridays because I knew that my first class of the day always meant it was time for a quiz. All of my peers despised Mr. B for his quizzes to make sure that we had been paying attention all week and that we were keeping up with the information. “Isn’t that what tests are for? Why do we have to take a quiz every week?”

Teaching To The TestBeing tested frequently is something that students are most of the time not too fond of, but in the long run when you get the grade of your exam, you will thank the teachers that made you recall and tested you on the information learned every week! Recent research in cognitive psychology has provided strong evidence to support this notion.

Retrieval, the process by which information can be extracted from memory, is treated as an evaluative tool that reveals what people remember and what they have forgotten; retrieval shows what people know but it also changes what people know. From an educational perspective, it is important to understand that retrieval serves more than just the purpose of reinforcing memory of a tested fact! Cognitive psychologists have recently been seeking to provide educators with clear, effective advice on how to improve student learning.

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Categories: Education, Memory Tags: , ,

Binge Drinking Before an Exam, Maybe Not as Bad as You Thought.

March 26th, 2013 11 comments

binge drinking stats

It’s no secret that in the pursuit of a higher education away from the confines of home students often explore a wilder side of themselves. The weekdays may be all about academics, but on the weekend campuses breakout with parties full of stressed students trying to let loose, if only for one night. This celebration of the weekend usually includes some alcoholic drinking. Four out of every five college students drink alcohol. Strict scheduling of academics and fun can lead students to overindulge, taking in too much of a good thing in a short period of time. In terms of drinking this pattern of behavior is called binge drinking. About half of all college students who drink also show patterns of binge drinking. 54% of binge drinking college students reported blacking out and forgetting what they had done some point in the past year, compared to only 25% for students who did not binge drink. Binge drinking as defined by the National Advisory Council of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) is attaining a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 g% or more in about two hours. 0.08 g% is equivalent to about 5 or more drinks for most adults (4 or more for females). A BAC of 0.08 is considered intoxicated and is associated with impairment of speech, balance, reaction time, judgment, and memory. Though, because this impairment is often slight and just beginning to develop, it may be easy to believe you are less impaired than you are. Drinking 5 or more drinks in only 2 hours clearly shows its effects the night of their intake, but what about the next day? Worst, what if a student has academic responsibilities the next day? Even worst, what if the student has an exam the next day!

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Categories: Education, Memory Tags: ,