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Prior episodic learning and the efficacy of retrieval practice.


In three experiments we investigated how the level of study-based, episodic knowledge influences the efficacy of subsequent retrieval practice (testing) as a learning event. Possibilities are that the efficacy of a test, relative to a restudy control, decreases, increases, or is independent of the degree of prior study-based learning. The degree of study-based learning was manipulated by varying the number of item repetitions in the initial study phase between one and eight. Predictions of the dual-memory model of test-enhanced learning for the case of one study-phase repetition were used as a reference. Results support the hypothesis that the advantage of testing over restudy is independent of the degree of prior episodic learning, and they suggest that educators can apply cued-recall testing with the expectation that its efficacy is similar across varying levels of prior content learning. Implications for testing effect theory are discussed.

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