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Retention following Two-Stage Collaborative Exams Depends on Timing and Student Performance.

Abstract

Multistage collaborative exams are implemented to enhance learning and retention of course material. However, the effects of multistage collaborative exams on retention of course content are varied. These discrepancies may be due to a number of factors. To date, studies examining collaborative exams and content retention have used questions that all, or mostly, require students to select an answer, rather than generate one of their own. However, content retention can improve when students generate their own responses. Thus, we examined the effect of collaborative exams with open-ended questions on retention of course content. Retention was measured at two time periods; one relatively shortly (9 days) following a collaborative exam and another over a longer time period (23 days). Furthermore, we examined whether content retention differed for low-, mid-, or high--performing students. Our results suggest that collaborative exams offer retention benefits at relatively long time periods between pre- and posttests, but not over shorter time periods. Retention varied across students in different performance categories. Our study, the first to use only open-ended questions, showed relatively small effects compared with studies using multiple-choice or fill-in-the-blank format, but still suggest that collaborative exams can aid in content retention.

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