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Genetics, Development and Cell Biology, Psychology, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Education, School of

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CBE-Life Sciences Education





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Retrieval practice has been shown to produce significant enhancements in student learning of course information, but the extent to which students make use of retrieval to learn information on their own is unclear. In the current study, students in a large introductory biology course were provided with optional online review questions that could be accessed as Test questions (requiring students to answer the questions before receiving feedback) or as Read questions (providing students with the question and correct answer up-front). Students more often chose to access the questions as Test compared with Read, and students who used the Test questions scored significantly higher on subsequent exams compared with students who used Read questions or did not access the questions at all. Following an in-class presentation of superior exam performance following use of the Test questions, student use of Test questions increased significantly for the remainder of the term. These results suggest that practice questions can be an effective tool for enhancing student achievement in biology and that informing students about performance-based outcomes coincides with increased use of retrieval practice.


This article is published as Carpenter, Shana K., Shuhebur Rahman, Terry JS Lund, Patrick I. Armstrong, Monica H. Lamm, Robert D. Reason, and Clark R. Coffman. "Students’ Use of Optional Online Reviews and Its Relationship to Summative Assessment Outcomes in Introductory Biology." CBE-Life Sciences Education 16, no. 2 (2017): ar23. 10.1187/cbe.16-06-0205. Posted with permission.

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