The Effects of Testing on Pre-University Science Students' Academic Outcomes in an Electricity and Magnetism Course

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Testing can influence student learning outcomes by influencing their approach to study and to learning. It is important tounderstand the influence of testing on students' learning outcomes to optimize instruction. We examine the role that testing playedin a science course, to examine the effect of testing on retention and performance on a standardized final exam. This studycompared two sections—experimental condition with testing (N = 35) and comparison condition with homework (N = 39)—of anElectricity and Magnetism course in a pre-university program to explore the role of the testing effect, that is, whether taking a testaids subsequent learning and retention. Results indicated that the students in the experimental group had a higher final examaverage and greatest achievement gains. Our findings corroborate previous research and suggest that the traditional homework-based instructional strategy is a less effective approach for science learning or later retention compared to an instructionalapproach incorporating regular testing. Implications of these findings and the importance of testing in science instruction are alsodiscussed.
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