Test format and corrective feedback modify the effect of testing on long-term retention

Sean H.K. Kang, Kathleen B. McDermott, Henry L. Roediger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

354 Scopus citations


We investigated the effects of format of an initial test and whether or not students received corrective feedback on that test on a final test of retention 3 days later. In Experiment 1, subjects studied four short journal papers. Immediately after reading each paper, they received either a multiple choice (MC) test, a short answer (SA) test, a list of statements to read, or a filler task. The MC test, SA test, and list of statements tapped identical facts from the studied material. No feedback was provided during the initial tests. On a final test 3 days later (consisting of MC and SA questions), having had an intervening MC test led to better performance than an intervening SA test, but the intervening MC condition did not differ significantly from the read statements condition. To better equate exposure to test-relevant information, corrective feedback during the initial tests was introduced in Experiment 2. With feedback provided, having had an intervening SA test led to the best performance on the final test, suggesting that the more demanding the retrieval processes engendered by the intervening test, the greater the benefit to final retention. The practical application of these findings is that regular SA quizzes with feedback may be more effective in enhancing student learning than repeated presentation of target facts or taking an MC quiz.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)528-558
Number of pages31
JournalEuropean Journal of Cognitive Psychology
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - Jul 2007


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