Breaking News: Tests Improve Student Knowledge Retention

The popular NYTimes article “To Really Learn, Quit Studying and Take a Test” reports on a research study showing the effectiveness of taking practice tests when learning new concepts (link here).  I’m really not sure why this is considered new research as student testing has been an accepted teaching practice dating back to the earliest forms of school.  This would have been newsworthy if the evidence was reversed, but alas it seems that educators have had an understanding of what works for some time now.

This strikes me as the type of academic blather that seems to be taken seriously as research these days.  Find something that we already know, to the point that most in the field would take it for granted, and slap a study together that verifies its accuracy.  I understand the value in questioning accepted practices, but shouldn’t academic research strive to create innovation and new thought in the field rather than proving time-tested activities.  How noteworthy that the same week I post about the budget-tightening happening at public universities this report on “groundbreaking’ research makes the news.

Perhaps a friend summed it best when she said “that’s why teachers have given tests since the start of schooling.”

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