Retrieval-based argument mapping promotes learning transfer

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Test-enhanced learning
Retrieval practice
Argument visualization
Learning transfer

The purpose of my thesis was to investigate if the effects of retrieval practice are enhanced by having learners recall studied information in the format of an argument map. A sample of 120 university students was randomly divided into three treatment groups: a restudy group, a retrieval practice group, and a retrieval-based dialectical map construction group. After reading a text about wind power, the restudy group reread the text. The retrieval practice group completed two cycles of unstructured retrieval practice of the text. The dialectical map group constructed argument maps in the absence of the text with the aid of a web-based argument visualization tool called the Dialectical Map (DMap). Participants returned within two weeks to complete the outcome tests, including a free recall test, a short-answer test, and an argument essay. The latter two measures required transfer and application of knowledge acquired from the text. The results indicated that retrieval-based argument mapping did not yield superior recall, but it did promote knowledge transfer. Argument mapping as a retrieval activity contributed to greater short-answer and argument essay test achievement relative to restudy and free recall testing. Unexpectedly, participants who engaged in free recall practice after reading the text and those who reread the text performed similarly on all three measures. The interaction effect between need for cognition and study strategy was not statistically detectable. This research is the first to integrate retrieval practice and argument mapping and provides new insight into the phenomenon of test-enhanced learning.

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John Nesbit
Education: Faculty of Education
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) Ph.D.