Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science




Human Computer Interaction

First Advisor

Thomas Holme


Research on the testing effect shows that practice tests are more effective than additional studying for enhancing learning. However, there has been little research directly addressing the role of additional testing when students take paper-based or computer-based tests in college courses. Accordingly, the purpose of this study was to investigate the role of the testing effect and test mode on student performance.

The participants were 664 general chemistry students from two large universities in the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest. After covering the test material in their course, students completed two proctored practice tests that included 17 algorithmic question pairs, 5 conceptual pairs, and 2 definition pairs. Each practice test was delivered on computer or paper according to one of four conditions that were defined by the mode of the initial test and the mode of the final test. These conditions were: Computer-Computer, Computer-Paper, Paper-Computer, and Paper-Paper. After completing the initial practice test, students repeated half of the items. Feedback was provided after each test and performance was measured with normalized gains. After completing all of the tests, students were asked to indicate and explain their test mode preferences for general chemistry tests.

Four major conclusions resulted from the study. First, the testing effect was found in all conditions, but varied in terms of the test mode. Paper-Computer showed the lowest gains and these gains were significantly lower than those for Paper-Paper. Gains from Computer-Paper and Paper-Paper were not significantly different from each other. Second, the test mode did not affect the students' performance on algorithmic questions, but affected their performance on conceptual and definition questions. Third, the gains from repeated items were significantly higher than the gains from non-repeated items. However, this testing effect was not consistent across all areas of chemistry content. Fourth, a majority of the students indicated a strong preference to take their next general chemistry test on paper since this mode allowed them to write on the test and show their work.

Overall, this study demonstrates the promising effects of testing. The results contribute to the understanding of the testing effect in a college classroom and the role of test mode for enhancing learning in general chemistry courses.


Copyright Owner

Anna Agripina Prisacari



File Format


File Size

135 pages