Four experiments investigated whether the testing effect also applies to the acquisition of problem-solving skills from worked examples. Experiment 1 (n = 120) showed no beneficial effects of testing consisting of isomorphic problem solving or example recall on final test performance, which consisted of isomorphic problem solving, compared to continued study of isomorphic examples. Experiment 2 (n = 124) showed no beneficial effects of testing consisting of identical problem solving compared to restudying an identical example. Interestingly, participants who took both an immediate and a delayed final test outperformed those taking only a delayed test. This finding suggested that testing might become beneficial for retention but only after a certain level of schema acquisition has taken place through restudying several examples. However, experiment 2 had no control condition restudying examples instead of taking the immediate test. Experiment 3 (n = 129) included such a restudy condition, and there was no evidence that testing after studying four examples was more effective for final delayed test performance than restudying, regardless of whether restudied/tested problems were isomorphic or identical. Experiment 4 (n = 75) used a similar design as experiment 3 (i.e., testing/restudy after four examples), but with examples on a different topic and with a different participant population. Again, no evidence of a testing effect was found. Thus, across four experiments, with different types of initial tests, different problem-solving domains, and different participant populations, we found no evidence that testing enhanced delayed test performance compared to restudy. These findings suggest that the testing effect might not apply to acquiring problem-solving skills from worked examples.

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Educational Psychology Review
Department of Psychology

van Gog, T., Kester, L., Dirkx, K., Hoogerheide, V., Boerboom, J., & Verkoeijen, P. (2015). Testing After Worked Example Study Does Not Enhance Delayed Problem-Solving Performance Compared to Restudy. Educational Psychology Review, 27(2), 265–289. doi:10.1007/s10648-015-9297-3