The Testing Effect

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Testing makes learning come aliiive!

A few weeks ago, Parul, our superhero CEO, sent over this research article about something called the testing effect. She explained that the implications of the testing effect is one of the reasons Gradeable exists. In essence, the testing effect is the scientific explanation of how the more you test, the better your students will be. Like in anything else, the more you practice, the better you will be.

In 2005, people at Purdue found testing helped students retain more than simply studying the material. In the study, they had two groups of students read a passage and eventually get tested on it. One group got quizzed 3 times after they read while the other group was asked to look over the material for each time the first group got quizzed. When it came time to test 5 minutes, 2 days, and 1 week later, the quizzed group retained more than the group that repeatedly studied the material.

Even though the studying made kids feel better about remembering the material initially, testing actually helped kids retain more information. So testing is a powerful learning tool, not just something that assesses it.

“ If students know they will be tested regularly (say, once a week, or even every class period), they will study more and will space their studying throughout the semester rather than concentrating it just before exams.”

That’s an obvious point. But what’s interesting was that kids actually retained more of the material in the future if they are tested and successfully recognize or recall it, than if they had not been tested at all. This is called the testing effect, and it’s not exactly well known outside the field of cognitive psychology.

You could argue that the students who took more tests were getting more exposure to the test materials, but the students who studied more were exposed to 100% of the material. To me, this is scientific proof that you learn more by doing than by observing.

When Parul and I sat down yesterday to talk about Gradeable’s mission statement, she explained how integral feedback was for learning. I see this every day: My blog gets better when I hear what others think, what they’d like to read about, what didn’t work, and what they liked. It creates a structure in my mind of how to do my job better.

It’s the same way in school, especially at a young age. The more you hear from the teacher, the more you learn. Gradeable comes in because good feedback for every student can get overwhelming, tedious, and daunting to say the least. And while testing is key, we at Gradeable don’t advocate for more testing, but better testing. Our tool is built to help generate efficient and meaningful feedback for students so teachers can get back to doing what they do best: shaping young minds.

Find out how Gradeable can be your well-oiled feedback machine at www.gradeable.com

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