Contributed by e-Council member Karen Scott, PhD
Can spaced testing help students manage their study time and improve their marks?
Kerdijk and colleagues have compared the effects of cumulative and end-of-term assessment on medical students’ ability to manage their self-study time, as well as their assessment results.1 The authors found using spaced testing throughout the course helped students devote regular time to self-study, avoid procrastination and increase their overall study time. In contrast, students preparing for end-of-term assessment tended to cram in the final two weeks of the course.
When comparing student marks between the two assessment formats, the only difference was found in marks for content studied in the final two weeks of the course, with higher marks gained by students sitting the spaced tests. The authors speculated that these students had more cognitive resources available for learning in the final two weeks because they were not cramming for the final exam.
What do you think are the pros and cons of cumulative assessment compared with end-of-term assessment?
Do you think long-term retention of knowledge could be improved through cumulative rather than end-of-term assessment?
In what other ways could teachers help students manage their study time throughout a course?
- Kerdijk W, Cohen-Schotanus J, Mulder FBF, Muntinghe FLH and Tio RA. Cumulative versus end-of-course assessment: effects on self-study time and test performance. Medical Education 2015: 49: 709–716 doi:1111/medu.12756
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