Transfer of the Testing Effect: Just How Powerful Is It?
Doctor of Philosophy
Researchers have repeatedly showed that when students take a test on the studied materials, their retention of information increases on later exams. The memory gain produced by tests is called the testing effect. The testing effect has been demonstrated with different materials (e.g., word lists, prose), with different designs (e.g., within-subjects, between-subjects), with different age groups and with different settings (e.g., laboratory, classroom). This thesis offers a novel approach to the assessment of the testing effect: the transfer of the testing effect. Although research on the testing effect has been flourishing over the last decade, transfer of the effect has not been studied systematically. In this context, the transfer of the testing effect refers to whether a learner can utilize the memory gain produced by tests in different contexts. The present study examined the transfer of the testing effect in the temporal domain which refers to retention of the testing effect over a period of time (Experiment 1, Experiment 2, Experiment 3 and Experiment 4), the knowledge domain which refers to transfer of the testing effect across different levels of learning (Experiment 1, Experiment 2 and Experiment 3) and the modality domain which concerns how the format of the tests influence the testing effect (Experiment 4). In addition to the laboratory studies, Experiment 3 was conducted in an actual classroom setting incorporating real classroom curriculum. The study revealed that the testing effect endures over a long period of time varying between 1 and 12 weeks and is transferable across different levels of learning (i.e., lower level and higher level). Furthermore, the testing effect is affected by the differences in the format of tests. The transferability of the testing effect across different domains indicated that the testing effect reflects more than rote learning. The findings of the study were discussed in light of two competing theoretical orientations explaining the testing effect: the retrieval hypothesis and the transfer-appropriate processing framework. Additionally, the practical implications of the study were discussed in relation to the educational system.