A Random Controlled Trial to Examine the Efficacy of Blank Slate: A Novel Spaced Retrieval Tool with Real-Time Learning Analytics

Douglas McHugh, Richard Feinn, Jeff McIlvenna, Matt Trevithick
2021 Education Sciences  
Learner-centered coaching and feedback are relevant to various educational contexts. Spaced retrieval enhances long-term knowledge retention. We examined the efficacy of Blank Slate, a novel spaced retrieval software application, to promote learning and prevent forgetting, while gathering and analyzing data in the background about learners' performance. A total of 93 students from 6 universities in the United States were assigned randomly to control, sequential or algorithm conditions.
more » ... onditions. Participants watched a video on the Republic of Georgia before taking a 60 multiple-choice-question assessment. Sequential (non-spaced retrieval) and algorithm (spaced retrieval) groups had access to Blank Slate and 60 digital cards. The algorithm group reviewed subsets of cards daily based on previous individual performance. The sequential group reviewed all 60 cards daily. All 93 participants were re-assessed 4 weeks later. Sequential and algorithm groups were significantly different from the control group but not from each other with regard to after and delta scores. Blank Slate prevented anticipated forgetting; authentic learning improvement and retention happened instead, with spaced retrieval incurring one-third of the time investment experienced by non-spaced retrieval. Embedded analytics allowed for real-time monitoring of learning progress that could form the basis of helpful feedback to learners for self-directed learning and educators for coaching.
doi:10.3390/educsci11030090 fatcat:svjdhtp7qrcojn434ztmln5xwi