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Could the answer to better learning be… gulp… MORE tests?


Students writing an exam in a classroom

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that including more tests and quizzes during lectures (online or in the classroom) may prevent students from losing focus.

We all know what it’s like to be sitting in class and have our mind drift off. Even when the lecture is about something we’re interested in, it seems inevitable that at some point we will lose focus and as a consequence, not retain the information being taught.

The Boston Globe reports that cognitive psychologists are searching for ways to stop student’s minds from wandering, improve their comprehension, and memory, and improve their learning of material. Reporting on the study led by Karl Szpunar, a postdoctoral researcher in psychology at Harvard University, the Globe states that “[i]n two experiments, 80 students were asked to watch a 21-minute long video lecture on basic statistics with brief breaks about every five minutes. The group that was tested at the end of each break on the lecture material did the best on a final cumulative test, took more notes, and stayed more focused, reporting their minds strayed less often.”

Quizzing students on material as they learn it could be a great way for them to be aware of their attention and comprehension levels and help them retain information better. However, teachers may also be concerned that the constant testing will add extra stress that would instead have a negative effect on student learning.

What do you think? Do you quiz yourself on material during or after class? Would in-class quizzes stress you out or help you learn? Leave us a comment!

 

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