In current debates over educational policy, we often hear that schools spend too much time training students to pass assessment tests, rather than actually teaching them meaningful material. But a new study suggests that the act of taking a test may itself be critical to learning. Results of the study suggest that the process of recalling material (as one must do in an exam) is more effective than repetition as a learning strategy.
In other words, taking a test is not simply a means of assessing what a student has learned, it also helps him retain what he has learned.
Here’s an ironic possibility: No Child Left Behind boosters, in their effort to foster accountability through increased standardized testing, may have unwittingly stumbled on a strategy that actually enhances students’ learning at the same time.