Relation of Early Testing and Incentive on Quiz Performance in Introductory Psychology: An Archival Analysis

By McGuire, Michael J.; MacDonald, Pamelyn M. | Journal of Instructional Psychology, June 2009 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Relation of Early Testing and Incentive on Quiz Performance in Introductory Psychology: An Archival Analysis


McGuire, Michael J., MacDonald, Pamelyn M., Journal of Instructional Psychology


Students should learn best by repeating a cycle of studying, testing, and feedback, all of which are components of "mastery learning." We performed an archival analysis to determine the relation between taking quizzes early and quiz performance in a "mastery learning" context. Also investigated was whether extra credit resulted in early testing and improved scores on the quizzes. Results, based on data from 270 college students enrolled in 10 sections of Introductory Psychology, suggested that testing sooner is associated with better quiz performance. Providing extra credit resulted in a larger percentage of attempts that occurred during the first 5 days of quizzing but did not result in overall better quiz performance compared to sections not offering extra credit.

**********

According to a mastery instructional framework, people learn best by repeating a cycle of studying, testing, and feedback. This format benefits both the student who needs more time and effort to learn, and the student who can grasp concepts quickly and easily. In this format, students can commit the amount of time and effort necessary to achieve the grade that they desire. Yet, when one implements a curriculum fostering a mastery approach in higher education, guidelines for specific logistics are unclear. To address this issue, we investigated two major questions related to how well students use a mastery approach to learning information in sections of Introductory Psychology courses. First, we were interested in the degree to which attempting quizzes (number of attempts and how soon quizzes were attempted) correlated with quiz outcomes. Next, we were interested in whether providing an incentive for testing early would prove to be useful. Addressing these questions should be helpful to those employing a "mastery" approach or considering revamping a "mastery" approach to testing Introductory Psychology students.

Brief History of Mastery Learning

In 1963, John Carroll proposed that student aptitude was not the result of intelligence, but rather that some students needed more time to learn a subject than did others. He proposed a concept he called "degree of learning," which was a function of time spent divided by the time needed to master a subject. According to Carroll, "time spent" was a direct result of perseverance and opportunity to learn, whereas "time needed" involved learning rate, quality of instruction and the ability to understand instructions. From Carroll's basic assumptions, researchers developed two Mastery Learning programs: (a) Bloom's (1968) Learning for Mastery (LFM) and (b) Keller's (1968) Personalized System of Instruction (PSI).

Bloom (1968) reported that time actively engaged in studying was a critical variable involved in learning a subject. In Bloom's model, students take tests repeatedly, with variable time and testing, in order to demonstrate achievement levels on assessment tools, such as exams. The first instance of assessment could then serve as a diagnostic tool and identify areas that needed restudy. Bloom (1974) reviewed many studies of various types of LFM across different disciplines and reported that approximately 80% of students achieved at the same level with LFM procedures what only about 20% of students achieved with more conventional methods of instruction and testing.

Keller's (1968) Personalized System of Instruction (PSI) was similar to LFM in that students could take the same exam multiple times to reach a criterion level. In PSI, instructors divide program learning, mostly written materials, into short units. Thus, students move through the materials at their own pace and take exams at the end of each unit.

Modern mastery learning programs, including the program that is the focus of the present study, often employ a combination of LFM and PSI techniques. Instructors teaching Introductory Psychology at our school arrange material into small units of information (PSI) and provide feedback following each attempt at a quiz (LFM).

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Relation of Early Testing and Incentive on Quiz Performance in Introductory Psychology: An Archival Analysis
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?