Evaluating the Testing Effect in the Classroom: An Effective Way to Retrieve Learned Information

*Dr., Sakarya University College of Education, Sakarya, Turkey.
**Dr., Sakarya University, Sakarya, Turkey.
***Res. Assist. Middele East Technical University,Ankara, Turkey.


Problem statement: Evaluation, an important step in educational settings, is usually understood as a process to measure what students know or what they have learned. A variety of methods can be used for assessment and tests are one of the most important and widely-used. While being tested, one may learn or retrieve previously learned information via some mental processes that work on the memory. This phenomenon is called the “testing effect.” Despite some disadvantages, tests can also be used as learning materials. So, we will present our study on the testing effect in the classroom setting.

Purpose of study: The purpose of this study was to investigate whether the testing effect occurs in a classroom setting while using a test consisting of multiple choice and matching questions and a worksheet that summarizes the topic, and also to examine the effects of feedback and time.

Methods: In this study, the testing effect was investigated in a college chemistry course, and 98 pre-service science teachers participated. A pretest, post-test, control group research design was followed to investigate the testing effect. A pre-test that has 100 short-answer questions was performed and students were grouped according to scores from that test. Seven groups (six experimental and one control) were constituted with the requirement that each group had the same average score on the pre-test. An intervening test was applied to four groups (two of them received feedback immediately after the test), a worksheet that summarizes the topic was studied by two groups and one group (control group) had no additional activity. The same pre-test was applied as a post-test to determine final retention. Three groups received this post-test a day later, and the other three experimental groups and the control group received it a week later. Final retention of previously learned information and the effects of testing, receiving feedback and re-studying were investigated.

Finding and Results: The results of this study showed that exposing students to supporting practices has a positive effect on retention of previously learned information regardless of the type of the practice. Specifically, tests, which educational professionals frequently use to assess their students’ learning, should be used to support teaching and learning processes instead of just to determine the level of learning.

Conclusions and Recommendation: The results have important implications for classroom practice. That is, since much research supports the claim that testing has an important effect on students’ retention of previously learned information, it, therefore, should be used to improve classroom practices, and support teaching and learning processes.

Keywords: Testing effect, feedback, retrieval, retention, science education.