The testing effect with authentic educational materials: A cautionary note

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Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition


Despite considerable evidence that testing benefits subsequent retrieval of information, it remains uncertain whether this effect extends to topically related information with authentic classroom materials. In the current study we first profile the way in which quizzing is used in the classroom through a survey of introductory psychology instructors. The survey results indicate that, instructors frequently use related but different questions on quizzes and tests unlike many laboratory experiments that use identical questions. In two subsequent experiments, participants studied information from a college biology textbook, were quizzed twice, and given a final test. The items on the final test were either identical to or were related but different than the quiz items. Experiment 1 showed that testing produced the typical robust testing effect for repeated items, but there was no significant effect of testing for topically related items. In Experiment 2, participants could use their quizzes to guide restudy, and there was still no positive effect of testing for topically related information.



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