Spaced delivery is a strategy used that places a time or interval between learning; this spacing interjects between studying, testing, recalling and lectures; spaced delivery is also referred to as dispersed delivery or spaced practice (Halpern & Hakel, 2003; Smith & Karpicke, 2014). Massed delivery is when learning occurs all at once, such as the Raman et al. (2010) study, where one group known as the massed group was taught their entire course in 4 hours.
When spaced delivery takes place in learning a different context is encoded each time individuals access that knowledge, whereas, with massed delivery the context of knowledge is reduced (Raman, Mclaughlin, Violato, Rostom, Allard & Coderre, 2010). Spaced delivery leads to more recalling of information because of multiple recalls, multiple retrieval cues are encoded each time (Raman et al. , 2010). Given this information, Raman et al. concluded that massed delivery is inferior relative to spaced delivery in part due to the decrease in cognitive load and increase in cognitive fatigue (2010).
Cognitive fatigue occurs when the working memory surpasses its limitations to process knowledge, therefore individuals will not retain this new knowledge (Raman et al. , 2010). Noted in the same study by Raman et al. , (2010) cognitive fatigue and cognitive load increases over time in massed delivery, which may contribute to reduced learning. As has been noted, cognitive load is a key factor that must be acknowledged by educators for a student to learn effectively and to retain knowledge for future use.
Cognitive load can effectively be managed in both a FTF classroom environment as well as an e-learning environment using visuals, illustrations, videos, text and narration. Knowledge Retention Increasingly, e-Learning is being delivered regularly, for that reason educators need to understand how the e-learning environment can provide a more valuable learning experience. Educators need to ask whether e-Learning can provide meaningful learning for knowledge retention in order to generate the same testing strategy benefits as a FTF classroom.
Testing in the classroom does more than just measure learning; it also improves knowledge retention and reduces the rate of forgetting (Wheeler). Taking tests is more beneficial to support knowledge retention than simply restudying, even if information is missing from testing or there is no feedback provided (Roediger & Karpicke, 2006). If poor testing strategies are utilized in a class environment, educators may be failing to provide a proper experience, testing should be purposeful to ensure its effectiveness (Sumner, 1991).
Educators need to first ask what they are testing; are they seeking to test facts by recall only, or are they asking students to develop a conceptual understanding of knowledge. While each testing format has its own strengths and weaknesses, educators need to be aware that different formats of testing should be employed in the classroom for different objectives and outcomes. Added strategies to consider for increasing knowledge retention through testing are re-reading, re-studying and repeated testing. The selected studies for this research will help determine which effective strategies are used to support the retention of knowledge.
Many of the selected studies for this research realize the importance of test taking to improve knowledge retention; Karpicke (2009) reveals that countless students do not practice retrieval or self-testing to promote learning, simply because they do not know it enhances learning and knowledge retention. As educators, it is important to understand the importance of testing and which methods are most beneficial in the classroom; and pass that information along to the student. Education is the conduit to provide students with knowledge so they can retain that knowledge, and build on that as they move forward in life.
It has been established by Karpicke; that testing unaccompanied by other strategies increases long-term knowledge retention when compared to repeated study as a stand-alone or when presenting material as a lecture only (Ricci et al. , 1996; Choi & Johnson, 2005). Granted that testing as a stand-alone is beneficial, repeated testing is an important method that has a direct impact on long-term knowledge retention, whether it is combined with retrieval practice (Larsen, Butler & Roediger, 2009 & Smith, & Karpicke, 2014) or repeated study in a spaced delivery Larsen, Butler & Roediger (2009).
Although several of the selected studies I have researched relative to e-Learning, find that testing enhances knowledge retention, studies by Garrison, 2007; Peroz et al. , 2009 and Olivet et al. , (2016) indicate that under certain circumstances there were no significant differences for knowledge retention in e-Learning when compared to FTF testing environments. These studies by Garrison, 2007; Peroz et al. , 2009 and Olivet et al. , 2016, reveal that although early testing provided higher scores in e-Learning groups, final testing exposed no sizeable differences between e-Learning and FTF groups for knowledge retention.
The study conducted by Peroz et al. (2009) determined that while knowledge retention results for a computer assisted learning (CAL) class was similar to traditional methods, they learned that knowledge acquisition was greater in oral lectures for short-term knowledge retention. Equally important in a FTF classroom study by Larsen, Butler & Roediger (2009), affirm that testing augments knowledge retention and that practicing retrieval can enhance knowledge retention. The authors of the Larsen et al. study assert that testing in shorter intervals, or frequent testing, helps to reduce forgetting.
The consensus seems to be that testing is indeed important, but that further investigation needs to be addressed regarding additional testing strategies. Additional strategies will be discussed further in this chapter to determine what is beneficial for individuals to retain knowledge. The Testing Effect and Strategies Used in the Classroom The testing effect uses many strategies when trying to measure and increase knowledge, it is most advantageous for long term knowledge retention when the tested material is difficult enough to require effort (Kang et al. 2007).
While testing unaccompanied by any other method is beneficial to enhance knowledge retention (McDaniel) repeated testing reinforces the retention of knowledge (Larsen). Knowledge retention fosters subsequent retrieval of knowledge learned for future testing following testing after initial learning Wheeler. Furthermore, Wheeler recommends that when spaced delivery is inserted between testing and learning this promotes knowledge retention even farther.
For the purposes of this research this discussion examines short answer testing, multiple-choice testing supported by retrieval practice, interval practice, repeated testing, feedback, massed delivery and spaced delivery. While each of these strategies have their strengths and weakness, I will investigate the selected research to ascertain under which circumstances each work effectively to measure and promote knowledge retention. A key component to measure knowledge retention is to establish a baseline of what a student’s knowledge is prior to starting a course.
Baseline testing is a tool used to collect data by educators to determine where a student’s learning is at from which future measurements can be calculated. Once a baseline is established courses incorporate various tests for comparisons such as initial testing, repeated testing and post testing and some incorporate short or long intervals. It is noted that frequent or repeated testing may improve retention (Choi & Johnson, 2005; Larsen, Butler & Roediger, 2009 & Botezatu et al. , 2010).
Repeated study of target material results in a higher level or original learning, and also a steeper rate of forgetting, compared only to a single study trial followed by numerous recall opportunities” (Wheeler, Ewers & Buonanno, 2003, p. 577). Recall testing has a positive effect on long term retention (Wheeler, Ewers & Buonanno, 2003, p. 579). The benefit of retrieving knowledge depends on both retrieval difficulty and success subsequent memory performance (Smith, & Karpicke, 2014 & McDaniel et al. , 2007).
Retention of information through spacing repetition is influenced by prior successful acts of retrieving information and not exclusively from the strength or quality of the initial encoding episode (Smith, & Karpicke, 2014; Wheeler, Ewers & Buonanno, 2003, p. 578. Retrieval practice is a valuable way to increase knowledge retention because it allows the learner to make new connections with new knowledge (Carpenter 2012; Karpicke 2012). Feedback . Many of the selected studies for my research provide feedback throughout various testing strategies to students during learning.
Several of these studies examine if feedback has been effective for learning and if the feedback presented is measurable through different methods such as: response times, presentation in a FTF classroom or e-learning environment, during baseline testing, pretesting as well as the type testing method. It is necessary for educators to be aware of the testing and feedback conditions presented to students and if their methods are effectively supporting the retention of knowledge (Bangert-Drowns Kulik &Kulik, 2016).