The Effect of Retrieval Practice in Primary School Vocabulary Learning

Nicole Goossens*, Gino Camp, Peter Verkoeijen, Huib Tabbers

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    The testing effect refers to the finding that retrieval practice leads to better long-term retention than additional study of course material. In the present study, we examined whether this finding generalizes to primary school vocabulary learning. We also manipulated the word learning context. Children were introduced to 20 words by listening to a story in which novel words were embedded (story condition) or by listening to isolated words (word pairs condition). The children practised the meaning of 10 words by retrieval practice and 10 words by restudy. After 1 week, they completed a cued recall test and a multiple choice test. Words learned by retrieval practice were recalled better than words learned by additional study, but there was no difference in recognition. Furthermore, the children in the word pairs condition outperformed the children in the story condition. These results show that retrieval practice may improve vocabulary learning in children.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)135-142
    Number of pages8
    JournalApplied Cognitive Psychology
    Issue number1
    Early online date17 Oct 2013
    Publication statusPublished - 14 Jan 2014


    • retrieval practice
    • vocabulary learning
    • primary school


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