Free recall enhances subsequent learning

Kathleen M. Arnold, Kathleen B. McDermott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Testing, or retrieval practice, has become a central topic in memory research. One potentially important effect of retrieval practice has received little attention, however: It may enhance, or potentiate, subsequent learning. We introduce a paradigm that can measure the indirect, potentiating effect of free recall tests on subsequent learning, and then test a hypothesis for why tests may have this potentiating effect. In two experiments, the benefit of a restudy trial was enhanced when prior free recall tests had been taken. The results from a third, correlational study suggested that this effect might be mediated by the effect of testing on organization. Not only do encoding conditions affect later retrievability, but also retrieval attempts affect subsequent encoding effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-513
Number of pages7
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • Learning
  • Memory
  • Recall


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