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ERIC Number: ED517986
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2011
Pages: 14
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 23
Quizzing Promotes Deeper Acquisition in Middle School Science: Transfer of Quizzed Content to Summative Exams
Agarwal, Pooja K.; McDaniel, Mark A.; Thomas, Ruthann C.; McDermott, Kathleen B.; Roediger, Henry L., III
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness
The use of summative testing to evaluate students' acquisition, retention, and transfer of instructed material is a fundamental aspect of educational practice and theory. However, a substantial basic literature has established that testing is not a neutral event--testing can also enhance and modify memory (Carpenter & DeLosh, 2006; Hogan & Kintsch, 1971; McDaniel & Masson, 1985; see Roediger & Karpicke, 2006, for a review). Such findings suggest that educators might exploit testing (e.g., no- or low-stakes quizzing) as a technique to promote learning, not just as a way to assess learning. Converging on this suggestion, a number of quasi-experimental and correlational studies have demonstrated that no- and low-stakes quizzing can enhance performance on course assessments relative to no quizzing, for both online quizzing (Angus & Watson, 2009, Daniel & Broida, 2004; Kibble, 2007) and in-class quizzing (e.g., Leeming, 2002; see Bangert-Drowns, Kulik, & Kulik, 1991, for a review). The authors thought it possible that low-stakes quizzing in the classroom might also prompt deeper or more complete learning of the course material, such that performance on course summative assessment items that required transfer of the tested information would be enhanced relative to no quizzing. To examine this possibility, the authors conducted three experiments in an authentic classroom situation in which performance on the summative examinations used to evaluate the students (and assign grades) served as their dependent measures. Of interest was the extent to which in-class quizzes (with feedback) would enhance performance on summative exams, especially when quiz items are related to, but are not identical to, items on the summative exam. Echoing the variety of transfer effects produced by testing (quizzing) reported across the tantalizing but limited available experimental work (see Rohrer et al., 2010), the present study was designed to explore a range of possible transfer from quizzed items to exam items. As an overview, Experiment 1 focused on the extent to which quizzing would produce associative transfer, and Experiments 2a and 2b examined the effects of quizzing on learning and retention of related information and application of target constructs. Results demonstrate that low- and no-stakes quizzing can promote learning that is deeper than just retaining a particular answer. Experiment 1 clearly showed that quizzing promoted transfer to different exam items requiring a reverse association between concept-term and definition from that quizzed. Experiments 2a and 2b further showed that quizzing promoted transfer from applying a principle/concept in a concrete context to better retention of definitional information, as well as to applying the principle in a new context. This transfer was relatively broad, ranging from associative transfer, to increased learning of definitional information (after applied questions), to application of concepts in a variety of situations. Thus, quizzing can enhance learning of science concepts, not just learning of particular answers to repeated questions (across quizzes and exams). As such, low- or no-stakes quizzing appears to be a valuable learning technique that could be incorporated in a wide variety of educational contexts, without extensive changes or adjustments to current classroom practice and teacher development. (Contains 2 tables and 3 figures.)
Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness. 2040 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208. Tel: 202-495-0920; Fax: 202-640-4401; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness (SREE)