The Effect of Answering Questions that Differ in Specificity on Mental Effort and Text Retention

Liesbeth Kester, Huib Tabbers, Chantal Gorissen, Paul A. Kirschner

    Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperAcademic

    14 Downloads (Pure)


    Tested information is retained longer than studied information. This, so called, testing effect is thoroughly studied in memory research. Recently, a renewed interest in the testing effect in an educational context can be observed. This study is placed within this line of research and investigates two aspects of the testing effect, namely, effortful retrieval and retrieval induced facilitation. Participants were randomly assigned to one of three experimental conditions that differed in the learning strategy used. Participants either restudied a text that they had received, answered specific questions after studying the text, or answered less specific questions after studying the text. It is assumed that more effort is needed to answer the less specific questions than to answer the specific questions. Therefore, we hypothesize that the less specific questions will produce a stronger testing effect than the specific questions. In addition, we investigate if the benefits of taking an initial test spill over to answering questions that were not initially tested. The results of this study confirm that answering less specific questions requires more effort, however, this does not pay off in a better retention of facts after a week. Nevertheless, a testing was found for the specific questions. No spill over effects were found.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2011


    • adjunct questions
    • testing effect
    • text retention


    Dive into the research topics of 'The Effect of Answering Questions that Differ in Specificity on Mental Effort and Text Retention'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this