Almost a year later, research published in Science further supported this idea. Not that I needed the support . . . my own experience over several years has confirmed for me that it works. In fact, it works VERY well in enhancing student learning. But as a scientist, a variety of independent confirmations of a topic is appreciated.
Of course, the concept of frequent, online formative testing (as opposed to summative testing) is not at all new. But like a lot of breakthroughs in teaching and learning, it hasn't caught on with many professors "out in the trenches" yet. But it's really worth taking a look at.
First, check out my article from 2009 to get an idea of what I'm talking about.
Teaching as TestingThen check out the seminar that I gave on this topic a few years ago.
The Electronic Professor. 27 Feb 2009.
[Article outlining my use of online, randomized formative tests in teaching A&P.]
Seminar: Testing as Teaching
The A&P Professor. Accessed Jan 2012.
[Narrated presentation outlining a method to produce randomzed formative tests for A&P.]
After that, take a look at the research published in Science a year ago.
To Really Learn, Quit Studying and Take a Test
The New York Times. 20 January 2011.
[Brief summary of the research, including a graph of the results.]
Retrieval Practice Produces More Learning than Elaborative Studying with Concept Mapping
J.D. Karpicke, J. R. Blunt
Science. Published Online January 20 2011. DOI: 10.1126/science.1199327
[Original research mentioned above.]