Both multiple-choice and short-answer quizzes enhance later exam performance in middle and high school classes.

Research paper by Kathleen B KB McDermott, Pooja K PK Agarwal, Laura L D'Antonio, Henry L HL Roediger, Mark A MA McDaniel

Indexed on: 28 Nov '13Published on: 28 Nov '13Published in: Journal of experimental psychology. Applied


Practicing retrieval of recently studied information enhances the likelihood of the learner retrieving that information in the future. We examined whether short-answer and multiple-choice classroom quizzing could enhance retention of information on classroom exams taken for a grade. In seventh-grade science and high school history classes, students took intermittent quizzes (short-answer or multiple-choice, both with correct-answer feedback) on some information, whereas other information was not initially quizzed but received equivalent coverage in all other classroom activities. On the unit exams and on an end-of-semester exam, students performed better for information that had been quizzed than that not quizzed. An unanticipated and key finding is that the format of the quiz (multiple-choice or short-answer) did not need to match the format of the criterial test (e.g., unit exam) for this benefit to emerge. Further, intermittent quizzing cannot be attributed to intermittent reexposure to the target facts: A restudy condition produced less enhancement of later test performance than did quizzing with feedback. Frequent classroom quizzing with feedback improves student learning and retention, and multiple-choice quizzing is as effective as short-answer quizzing for this purpose.