Recent evidence shows that a combination of studying and testing can enhance a memory more than strictly studying over that same amount of time, as measured by a test afterward. This is a phenomenon known as the testing effect. Most testing effect studies have focused on testing to improve rote memorization. The present study investigated whether the testing effect aids the application — or transfer — of learning to new situations. In this study, 64 participants learned to solve analogical word problems that required the application of mathematical probability principles. In the first phase of the experiment, half of the participants studied some word problems and their solutions repeatedly while the other half of the participants both studied and solved those word problems. A day later, all participants were tested on new probability word problems. These new problems were designed to assess whether participants were able to apply the probability principles that they learned to new problems. Results suggested that preliminary testing did not improve participants’ ability to solve new problems on the final test, and that all participants were most accurate on new problems that were most similar to old problems.


Cloe Shasha

Jason Arndt
Sponsor, Associate Professor of Psychology & Neuroscience Program Director

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