In the present study we investigated the effect of repeated testing on item selection, retention, and delayed relearning of paired associates. Participants learned both related (easy) and unrelated (difficult) word pairs under conditions of repeated study and repeated testing. A retention test was given after both a 5-min and a 1-week interval. Following the 1-week retention test, participants received a relearning task. During the initial learning phase of the experiment, more related word pairs were successfully recalled on the practice tests compared to unrelated word pairs. Also, long-term retention benefits were found for items that were repeatedly tested compared to items that were repeatedly studied, regardless of item difficulty. The results suggest that the testing benefit following conditions of repeated testing cannot be attributed to mere item selection. Secondly, we found that delayed relearning was faster for previously restudied items compared to previously tested items. However, at the end of the relearning phase, repeated study and repeated testing 1 week prior to relearning resulted in comparable levels of recall performance. The results suggest that repeated testing can enhance delayed recall performance with little additional cost in terms of delayed relearning.

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Experimental Psychology
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

de Jonge, M., & Tabbers, H. (2013). Repeated testing, item selection, and relearning: The benefits of testing outweigh the costs. Experimental Psychology, 60(3), 206–212. doi:10.1027/1618-3169/a000189