Friday, January 28, 2011

Purdue Study: Self Testing is Key to Learning

A Student of the University of British Columbi...Image via Wikipedia
The time students invest in rereading or reviewing their notes would be better spent practicing retrieval to ensure better learning, according to new research from Purdue University. "We continue to show that practicing retrieval, or testing yourself, is a powerful, robust tool for learning," said Jeffrey D. Karpicke, an assistant professor of psychological sciences who studies learning and memory. "Our new research shows that practicing retrieval is an even more effective strategy than engaging in elaborative studying. Educators, researchers, and students are often focused on getting things 'in memory,' so techniques that encourage students to elaborate on the material are often popular. But learning is fundamentally about retrieving, and our research shows that practicing retrieval while you study is crucial to learning. Self-testing enriches and improves the learning process, and there needs to be more focus on using retrieval as a learning strategy."

In two studies, a total of 200 students studied texts on topics from different science disciplines. One group engaged in elaborative studying by creating concept maps - diagrams that illustrate the complicated connections and relationships in the material. The second group read the texts and then practiced retrieval; these students put the material away and practiced recalling the concepts from the text. The students returned to the lab a week later for the actual assessment of long-term learning. The group that studied by practicing retrieval showed a 50 percent improvement in long-term retention scores above and beyond the group that studied by creating concept maps. The students also were asked to predict which technique -- practicing retrieval or elaborative studying -- would be best for their long-term learning. While the majority thought that elaborative studying with concept mapping would be best, the students actually learned more by practicing retrieval.

Karpicke's future studies include evaluating how concept mapping can be used as part of the retrieval process, as well as other effective self-testing practices for students. More information is available at

Summary found in the TCEB Newsletter:

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Google Brings Global Science Fair Online -- THE Journal

Google Brings Global Science Fair Online -- THE Journal: "Google revealed Tuesday that it's launching the Google Science Fair, which the company described as the 'first global online science competition.' Google partnered with a number of organizations to launch the competition, including CERN, the Lego Group, National Geographic, and Scientific American.

Students aged 13 to 18 are eligible to participate in the inaugural Google Science Fair singly or in groups of two or three. Registration is opening today and will be open through April 4.

Judging criteria will focus on quality of the data, the writeup, and the significance of the concept for the project, as well as the quality of the video or presentation that the students must produce for the project. There is no specific theme for the debut event, but the rules for the competition state that the question should be 'interesting, creative, worded scientifically and relevant to the world today.' A sample project can be found here.

The initial round of judging in May will result in 60 semifinalists. Fifteen finalists will be chosen from this pool to participate in a live, in-person event to be held at Google headquarters in July. Those finalists will be selected from three age groups--13 to 14, 15 to 16, and 17 to 18--with five finalists chosen from each group.

Prizes will be awarded to the 15 finalists, along with a grand prize winner and a people's choice winner. They include a $50,000 scholarship for the grand prize winner (split evenly among team members should a team win), $25,000 for each finalist or finalist team, and $10,000 for the people's choice winner. Prizes for the students' schools and families will also be awarded.

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