What is the Optimal Grain Size When Learning with Study-retrieval Practice?

Doing retrieval practice during the learning phase contributes to better long term retention: this is the testing effect (Roediger and Karpicke, 2006). Recently, several studies investigated the optimal placement of the learning questions relative to the readings. Results suggested that interspersed testing throughout the readings led to better memory than postponed testing during the learning phase. However, they did not find a difference between the two placements at a retention test (Weinstein et al. 2016, Wissman and Rawson 2015, Uner and Roediger, 2017). Our study aimed at comparing the effect of different grain sizes of learning periods on memory retention; determining the grain size that yields the strongest testing effect at different retention intervals. Our experiment was run on a digital learning platform (Didask). We used a mixed factorial design that included 2 between-subject Learning Conditions (quiz-reading, reading-reading) and 3 between-subject Grain Sizes (small, medium, large) for the acquisition phase. During the training phase at day 1, participants had to study according to the learning conditions to which they were assigned. Seven days and 27 days later, they had to do a final test. We replicated the testing effect at long term intervals. We did not find that overall performance was different between the 3 grain sizes of learning periods. However, the significant interaction suggested that the large grain size gave the best testing effect. When learning with retrieval practice, it seems that the placement of the retrieval practice episodes does not matter.

Testing Effect, Learning Strategies, Memory Retention

Pedagogy and Curriculum

Poster/Exhibit Session

  • Alice Latimier
    • PhD Student, Département d'Etudes Cognitives, Ecole Normale Supérieure Paris, France France
    • I have explored various research areas from neurosciences, to ergonomics and psychological; from clinical research to more fundamental research. I am currently preparing a PhD in cognitive psychology (Department of Cognitive Studies, Ecole Normale Supérieure, PSL University, Paris)