Low-Stakes Quizzes Improve Learning and Reduce Overconfidence in College Students

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Kevin L Kenney
Heather Bailey


Retrieval practice is a straightforward and effective way to improve student learning, and its efficacy has been demonstrated repeatedly in the laboratory and in the classroom. In the current study, we implemented retrieval practice in the form of daily reviews in the classroom. Students (N = 47) in a cognitive psychology course completed a daily review at the beginning of each class. These consisted of 2-4 questions that encouraged students to practice retrieving material covered in lectures from the previous week. Then at the end of the semester, students took a comprehensive final exam consisting of content that was either on a daily review, a unit exam, both or neither. We replicated previous work such that retrieval practice improved memory. Specifically, we found that students performed significantly better on questions whose information had been covered on both a daily review and unit exam. However, student performance did not differ amongst items covered only on a daily review, a unit exam, or on neither. Additionally, we extended previous work and found that students were significantly less overconfident for information covered on both a daily review and unit exam. The current results indicate that retrieval practice helps college students remember material over the course of a semester and also improves their ability to evaluate their own knowledge of the material.


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Kenney, K. L., & Bailey, H. (2021). Low-Stakes Quizzes Improve Learning and Reduce Overconfidence in College Students. Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 21(2). https://doi.org/10.14434/josotl.v21i2.28650


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