Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
NSF Grantees Poster Session
Mathematical competency is vital to success in engineering. Competency requires not only short-term mastery of mathematical concepts, but also long-term retention. Research in cognitive psychology shows that the more times information is retrieved from memory, the more likely it is to be remembered over the long-term. Research also shows that increasing the amount of time between retrievals increases long-term retention. Which of these interventions—increasing the amount or the temporal spacing of retrieval practice—has the greater impact on long-term retention? Supported by NSF’s Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) program, we answered this question by independently manipulating the amount and the spacing of retrieval practice in a precalculus course for engineering students. This was done by varying the number of quiz questions concerning key precalculus objectives (amount of practice) and varying whether those questions were massed on a single quiz or distributed across quizzes in multiple weeks (spacing of practice). Long-term retention was assessed in a test of precalculus knowledge administered one month after the end of the precalculus course. We found that students were significantly more likely to retain precalculus objectives when quiz questions had been spaced versus massed. Increasing the number of quiz questions did not significantly affect retention. These findings suggest that educators wishing to increase students’ long-term retention of mathematics knowledge should increase the spacing, rather than the amount, of retrieval practice in their courses.
Hopkins, R. F., & Lyle, K. B., & Ralston, P. A., & Bego, C. R., & Hieb, J. L. (2018, June), Board 121: Retrieval Practice and Spacing: Effects on Long-Term Learning among Engineering Precalculus Students Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/29900
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