Enhancing learning and retarding forgetting: choices and consequences

Psychon Bull Rev. 2007 Apr;14(2):187-93. doi: 10.3758/bf03194050.


Our research on learning enhancement has been focusing on the consequences for learning and forgetting of some of the more obvious and concrete choices that arise in instruction, including questions such as these: How does spacing of practice affect retention of information over significant retention intervals (up to 1 year)? Do spacing effects generalize beyond recall of verbal materials? Is feedback needed to promote learning, and must it be immediate? Although retrieval practice has been found to enhance learning in comparison with additional study, does it actually reduce the rate of forgetting? Can retrieval practice effects be extended to nonverbal materials? We suggest that as we begin to find answers to these questions, it should become possible for cognitive psychology to offer nonobvious advice that can be applied in a variety of instructional contexts to facilitate learning and reduce forgetting.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Choice Behavior*
  • Feedback
  • Humans
  • Learning*
  • Memory*
  • Mental Recall
  • Practice, Psychological
  • Reinforcement, Psychology*
  • Retention, Psychology
  • Teaching / standards
  • Time Factors