Article (Scientific journals)
Adaptive Practice Quizzing in a University Lecture: A Pre-Registered Field Experiment
Heitmann, Svenja; Obergassel, Niklas; Fries, Stefan et al.
2021In Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition
Peer reviewed


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Keywords :
Practice quizzing; Testing effect; Adaptation; Cognitive load
Abstract :
[en] Providing quiz questions has emerged as a powerful means to support learning. However, it is still unclear whether adaptive practice quizzing will enhance beneficial effects in authentic contexts. To address this question, university students (N = 188; n = 155 female) were randomly assigned to employ either adaptive practice quizzing, nonadaptive practice quizzing, or note-taking following three consecutive sessions of a standard psychology university lecture for undergraduate pre-service teachers. In the adaptive practice quizzing condition, quiz questions were adapted to learners’ expertise via cognitive demand ratings, whereas in the non-adaptive condition quiz questions followed a fixed sequence. Students in the adaptive practice quizzing condition outperformed those in the nonadaptive condition after a two-week delay, but not after a one-week delay. Exploratory mediation analyses show that performance on the quiz questions during the learning phase seems to be partly responsible for this effect.
Disciplines :
Education & instruction
Author, co-author :
Heitmann, Svenja
Obergassel, Niklas
Fries, Stefan
Grund, Axel  ;  University of Luxembourg > Faculty of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences (FHSE) > LUCET
Berthold, Kirsten
Roelle, Julian
External co-authors :
Language :
Title :
Adaptive Practice Quizzing in a University Lecture: A Pre-Registered Field Experiment
Publication date :
September 2021
Journal title :
Journal of Applied Research in Memory and Cognition
Peer reviewed :
Peer reviewed
Focus Area :
Educational Sciences
Funders :
This work was supported by the Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung [(German) Federal Ministry of Education and Science (BMBF); FKZ 16DHL1004].
Commentary :
One means to effectively support learners in learning new content lies in the method of practice quizzing. In practice quizzing, learners typically first study new learning material and then answer multiple quiz questions. Practice quizzing is usually very beneficial for learning. We wanted to investigate whether its positive effect could be increased. In a typical quizzing setup, all learners are presented with the same quiz questions in the same order – without taking into account how knowledgeable the learners are in the subject at hand. Research suggests that this is suboptimal. In our study, we adapted the order of quiz questions to match learners’ actual state of knowledge with the help of a mechanism simple enough to be applied in authentic learning contexts, such as university lectures: By assessing how cognitively demanding (i.e., how hard) learners found a given quiz question, we aimed to then provide them with a question fitting their state of knowledge (which should evoke medium cognitive demand). Our study, conducted in an authentic psychology lecture with undergraduate pre-service teachers, showed that our new adaptive approach led to higher learning outcomes (at least after two weeks) than non-adaptive practice quizzing. This seems to be in part due to learners in the adaptive condition performing better on the quiz questions during the learning phase than learners in the non-adaptive condition. We conclude that, based on our data, the benefits of practice quizzing in authentic learning contexts are even greater when the quiz questions are adapted to learners’ state of knowledge via a simple adaptation mechanism.
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