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But what about the effects of repeated retrieval practice?
Massed retrieval — repeating the translations three times immediately — produced no additional gain in learning. Retrieving essential material at the end of lectures improves performance on statistics exams.
To learn something new, according to this view, the challenge lies in getting knowledge "in" one's mental space.
Getting it back "out" when needed is important, too, but learning is usually identified with the encoding of new knowledge in memory.
After a word was successfully retrieved once, it was "dropped" from further practice — the students did not see it again in the learning session.
Other conditions in the experiment examined the effects of repeated retrieval practice.
In one condition, students simply studied the words once, without trying to recall them at all.
In a second condition, students continued studying and recalling the words until they had recalled all of them once.
One repeated retrieval condition had the three recall trials happen immediately, three times in a row.
Merely studying the words once without ever recalling them produced extremely poor performance (average recall was 1 percent, barely visible on the figure).
Practicing until each translation was recalled once was much better.
The key question in this research was, how well would students remember the vocabulary word translations in the long term?
Figure 1 shows the proportion of translations that students remembered one week after the initial learning session.