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Harrison, Ann (1995). Using knowledge decrement to compare medical students' long-term retention of self-study reading and lecture materials.  Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 20, 149-159.

This paper compared retention of information one-year after alternative methods of instruction were used.  The approach was to examine knowledge decrement, the loss of information over time.  This may prove to be a suitable approach for my study.  In addition, this reference demonstrates the importance of contrasting strong and less academically able students when assessing knowledge retention.


Custers, E.J. F. M. & ten Cate, O.T.J. (2011). Very long-term retention of basic science knowledge in doctors after graduation. Medical Education, 45, 422-430.

Retention of foundational medical knowledge was assessed amongst doctors in the Netherlands.  Surveyed physicians varied in the length of time since their medical training from recent graduates to those who had been practicing for up to five decades.  This paper highlights the importance of rehearsal of knowledge for retention.  Results suggest that, without rehearsal, information is retained for not longer than 1.5-2 years.  Attention to rehearsal during and after my course will be a necessary part of my investigation.  As was done in this study, it may be useful to ask subjects how they perceive their retention of information (i.e. I knew this once but have forgotten...).
                                
J.D. Karpicke, J.D. & Henry L. Roediger III (2007). Expanding retrieval practice promotes short-term retention, but equally spaced retrieval enhances long-term retention. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 33, 704–719.

These authors examine the long-recognized phenomenon known as the “testing effect”.  Asking students to recall information has a positive effect on learning.  This paper suggests that the timing of such recall events influences their efficacy.  In my classes I make use of a number of formative assessment tools.  These include;

1) multiple choice questions presenting to the class which the students answer individually using blocks with different colored sides (comparable to “clicker” questions),         
2) multiple choice questions presented to groups (colored cardboard is used instead of blocks),
3) checks where students orally answer my questions in small groups and
4) quizzes using Immediate-Feedback Assessment forms.

I hypothesize that these activities would give me something comparable to the testing effect but do not have supporting evidence.  This will form the basis of my study.  It would be interesting to know if raising the complexity of the questions asked during these formative assessments could also affect long-term retention.
                                        

Kang, S.H.K., McDermott, K.B., Roediger III, H.L. (2007). Test format and corrective feedback modify the effect of testing on long-term retention.  European Journal of Cognitive Psychology, 19, 528-558.

In this study, the investigators examined the testing effect by varying the type of recall events.  Multiple choice and short answers quizzes were given several days prior to a test.  Feedback was provided making these functionally equivalent to formative evaluation.  Short answer quizzes were found to be better for knowledge retention.  In my mind, this raises issues about how lasting memories are formed (i.e. the creation of neural connections, creating connections amongst content items).  It would be interesting to know if such differences in the nature of formative assessment can influence long-term retention of information.

Butler, A.C., Roediger, H.L. (2007). Testing improves long-term retention in a simulated classroom setting.  European Journal of Cognitive Psychology 19, 514-527    

Similar to the above study (Kang et al., 2007), the authors compared multiple choice and short answer quizzes.  In contrast, the subsequent evaluation was held one month later, not several days.  As above, short answer questions led to better retention.  Interestingly feedback was not beneficial.  Other work I have seen suggests that feedback can be useful but not as powerful as the “test effect” itself.  

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