Unsuccessful retrieval attempts enhance subsequent learning.

@article{Kornell2009UnsuccessfulRA,
  title={Unsuccessful retrieval attempts enhance subsequent learning.},
  author={Nate Kornell and Matthew Jensen Hays and Robert A. Bjork},
  journal={Journal of experimental psychology. Learning, memory, and cognition},
  year={2009},
  volume={35 4},
  pages={
          989-98
        }
}
Taking tests enhances learning. But what happens when one cannot answer a test question-does an unsuccessful retrieval attempt impede future learning or enhance it? The authors examined this question using materials that ensured that retrieval attempts would be unsuccessful. In Experiments 1 and 2, participants were asked fictional general-knowledge questions (e.g., "What peace treaty ended the Calumet War?"). In Experiments 3-6, participants were shown a cue word (e.g., whale) and were asked… 

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Attempting to answer a meaningful question enhances subsequent learning even when feedback is delayed.
  • N. Kornell
  • Psychology
    Journal of experimental psychology. Learning, memory, and cognition
  • 2014
TLDR
These findings may give comfort to educators who worry that asking a question or giving a test, on which students inevitably make mistakes, impairs learning if feedback is not immediate, and suggest that there is a consensus in the literature thus far: Questions with rich semantic content enhance subsequent learning even when feedback is delayed, but less meaningful questions without an intrinsic answer enhance learning only when Feedback is immediate.
Retrieval attempts enhance learning, but retrieval success (versus failure) does not matter.
TLDR
It appears that retrieval attempts promote learning but retrieval success per se does not, and a 2-stage framework to explain the benefits of retrieval is proposed.
The pretesting effect: do unsuccessful retrieval attempts enhance learning?
TLDR
The authors examined the effect of unsuccessful retrieval attempts on learning by reading an essay about vision and found that posttest performance was better in the test condition than in the extended study condition in all experiments--a pretesting effect.
Retrieval attempts enhance learning regardless of time spent trying to retrieve
TLDR
During the initial retrieval attempt, more time did increase recall, suggesting that participants continued to engage in productive retrieval activities when given more time.
When and why do retrieval attempts enhance subsequent encoding?
TLDR
The results support the idea that a search set of candidates related to the retrieval cue is activated during retrieval and that this retrieval-specific activation can enhance subsequent encoding of those candidates.
Can multiple-choice testing potentiate new learning for text passages? A meta-cognitive approach to understanding the forward testing effect
A burgeoning area of research has begun to examine how retrieval practice can influence future learning that occurs after a test. In general, the extant literature has demonstrated a forward testing
The role of retrieval in answering multiple-choice questions.
TLDR
Investigation of the processes that individuals use to answer multiple-choice questions and how those processes relate to later memory found that participants sometimes spontaneously recall information pertaining to incorrect alternatives, and these spontaneous retrievals are associated with retention of those alternatives as correct answers to related questions later.
The effect of unsuccessful retrieval on children's subsequent learning.
When and why a failed test potentiates the effectiveness of subsequent study.
TLDR
It is found that failed tests followed by immediate feedback produced greater retention than did a presentation-only condition and that generating an incorrect response to a cue both activates the semantic network associated with the cue and suppresses the correct response.
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The authors examined the effect of unsuccessful retrieval attempts on learning by reading an essay about vision and found that posttest performance was better in the test condition than in the extended study condition in all experiments--a pretesting effect.
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