The testing effect under divided attention: Educational application

Zachary L. Buchin, Neil W. Mulligan
2019 Journal of experimental psychology. Applied  
In educational settings, tests are typically used to assess learning. However, research has also shown that tests can enhance retention, often to a greater degree than restudying (i.e., the testing effect). Understanding how these encoding effects of retrieval differ from other forms of encoding is important for applications of the testing effect. One potential difference relates to attention: Divided attention (DA) is well known to disrupt memory encoding but typically has much less impact on
more » ... emory retrieval. Less is known about the relative attentional demands of the encoding effects of retrieval. Because students are often challenged by distractions while learning, it is important to examine the testing effect, and its relation to attention, with materials and methods more typical of educational settings. Participants studied foreign language word pairs (Experiments 1 and 2) or educational texts (Experiment 3), restudied or retrieved those materials under full attention (FA) or DA, and then took a final test two days later. In each experiment, a testing effect was found under both FA and DA and the level of disruption from DA was similar for both learning conditions. Consequently, the testing effect persists even when retrieval occurs under distraction, and the encoding effects of retrieval and restudy appear to be similarly susceptible to distraction when learning complex educational information. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).
doi:10.1037/xap0000230 pmid:31070392 fatcat:pirbmlw22vb5xchpgwsfyendly