Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Metamemory Monitoring and Control Following Retrieval Practice for Text

Academic journal article Memory & Cognition

Metamemory Monitoring and Control Following Retrieval Practice for Text

Article excerpt

Published online: 19 August 2014

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 2014

Abstract Test-taking is assumed to help learners diagnose what they do and do not know, and by so doing improve the effectiveness of their subsequent study. Previous work has examined metamemory monitoring (e.g., predictions of future performance) and control (e.g., restudy decisions) following testing or retrieval practice with relatively simple materials (e.g., word pairs). There is reason to believe, however, that such monitoring and control decisions might be more difficult with text materials, even after retrieval practice, owing perhaps to difficulty in accurately assessing one's performance on the retrieval-practice test. In two experiments, participants read texts about world regions, then engaged in retrieval practice or rereading of the information in those texts, made estimates about future performance, and then received an opportunity to restudy the texts before taking a final recall test, with self-paced restudy enabling an examination of control processes. Memory predictions were more accurate in the retrieval-practice than in the rereading condition, and learners in both conditions allocated restudy time on the basis of their predictions. Additionally, restudy provided a greater benefit following retrieval practice than following rereading. The present study has implications for how students can use retrieval practice with text to foster subsequent learning.

Keywords Testing effects . Restudy . Metacognition . Metamemory . Monitoring

Taking a test is beneficial for learning-and presumably for a variety of reasons. The notion that the processes involved in retrieving information improve its later recall (i.e., the testing effect) has received considerable empirical attention (see Roediger & Karpicke, 2006a, for a review). Several indirect benefits are also commonly assumed: Test-taking helps learners to diagnose what they do and do not know, and this in turn improves the effectiveness of subsequent study. These potential benefits of testing or retrieval practice, however, have received relatively little empirical attention, especially as they pertain to metamemory for text passages. In the present research, we investigated the metamemory insights that retrieval practice for text passages may foster, how such practice influences future study, and the extent to which it improves the effectiveness of future study.

Metamemory indices

In theory, in order to make good study decisions, it is necessary for learners to (a) have an accurate representation of what they do and do not know and (b) use that knowledge appropriately to inform subsequent study, known within the metacognitive/metamemory literature as monitoring and control, respectively (e.g., Nelson & Narens, 1994). Monitoring is commonly measured in two ways: absolute and relative accuracy. Absolute accuracy measures the degree to which learners can judge how much they learned. Relative accuracy measures the degree to which learners can judge which information was better or less well learned. Although both measures can inform metacognitive control (e.g., restudy decisions), it is sensible that relative accuracy would better inform how learners should allocate future study time among various to-be-learned information, whereas absolute accuracy would better inform the total amount of time learners should allocate to future study (see, e.g., Schwartz & Efklides, 2012).

Metacognitive monitoring

Learners often fail to make accurate judgments about study strategy effectiveness. For example, they often rely on ease of processing (e.g., feelings of fluency) and attribute higher ratings of learning to information that is more easily processed, even though such easily processed information is often not better learned (e.g., Dunlosky & Matvey, 2001; Rhodes & Castel, 2008). Conditions that necessitate deeper processing, however, tend to improve judgment accuracy (e. …

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