From Diversifying Economic Quality: A Wiki for Instructors and Departments
Altering the frequency and type of retrieval exercises and assessments used in the classroom heavily impacts your students' retention of information. Assessments should be cumulative in content, not only focusing on recently presented material, and focus on key concepts rather than random facts--this prevents students from 'selectively forgetting' certain concepts when studying. Also, a study by Glover found that students' long-term retention of information was better when they were given multiple exams rather than a single, large one and professors consistently reviewed all concepts presented. Altering retrieval exercises and test formats challenges the students and increases their information retention by forcing them to recall it under differing contexts.
Ideas for incorporation:
-Space out your assessments rather than giving a single, large one.
-Administer cumulative assessments in order to prevent selective forgetting.
-Vary your tests formats in order to challenge students and increase their long-term memory. Your course's assessments should not all be the same exact format--this fails to challenge your students and provides you and them with a false sense knowledge. Uniform test formats make your course easy and non-engaging for students.
-Vary your retrieval exercises. Like in the case of assessments, varying your retrieval exercises challenges students to retrieve information under varying contexts and thus reinforces knowledge.
Click here for a helpful article on retrieval tests.
Glover, J. A. (1989). The "testing" phenomenon: Not gone but nearly forgotten. Journal of Educational Psychology, 81, 392-399. Click here to access the study.
McEachern, William A. "THE TEACHING ECONOMIST." The Teaching Economist. Cengage Learning, 2008. Web. 10 June 2011. <http://www.cengage.com/economics/mceachern/theteachingeconomist/issue_34/index.html>. Click here to access the article.