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  • Scott Murphey

Optimizing the Testing Effect - pretest learning objectives, but wait on the feedback.

In this study, researchers were testing the effects of using pretests to introduce learning objectives. They found that using a pretest to introduce learning objectives produced positive outcomes in learning.


They also found an interesting finding that holding off on feedback, meaning during the pretest you let the students know what they got right and wrong, but you don't let them know the right answer yet, immediately produced more positive results over letting them know the right answer immediatly.


This has awesome implications for teachers in their day-to-day class.


As some people worry, I am not saying this is definitive proof or a way of how we should always teach, but this is just a very informative place for teachers to start and think about how they can try different methods to teach better for their students.


This experiment has started by analyzing what we know about learning and then introduces various factors or tweaks that may be involved and what they discovered in a controlled experiment.


This is a perfect place for educators to now take over, and play around with these ideas. Introduce these little tweaks in your teaching, which will take very little time or effort in your day-to-day. The downsides are very minimal and the upsides are that it may actually impact learning in significant ways.


As a teacher, my takeaway from this is to try introducing learning objectives in the form of a pretest, and then hold off on direct feedback.


I can think of many reasons why this might help. Instead of passively receiving the answer after the question, they have to actively look for it in the content I am presenting. This primes their brains to be open to the information when they hear it. This can take the form of more active engagement, excitement towards the topic, and positive feelings of accomplishment once they do find the right answer.

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