Delayed, but not immediate, feedback after multiple-choice questions increases performance on a subsequent short-answer, but not multiple-choice, exam: evidence for the dual-process theory of memory

J Gen Psychol. 2015;142(2):118-34. doi: 10.1080/00221309.2015.1024600.


Three experiments, two performed in the laboratory and one embedded in a college psychology lecture course, investigated the effects of immediate versus delayed feedback following a multiple-choice exam on subsequent short answer and multiple-choice exams. Performance on the subsequent multiple-choice exam was not affected by the timing of the feedback on the prior exam; however, performance on the subsequent short answer exam was better following delayed than following immediate feedback. This was true regardless of the order in which immediate versus delayed feedback was given. Furthermore, delayed feedback only had a greater effect than immediate feedback on subsequent short answer performance following correct, confident responses on the prior exam. These results indicate that delayed feedback cues a student's prior response and increases subsequent recollection of that response. The practical implication is that delayed feedback is better than immediate feedback during academic testing.

Keywords: learning; memory; teaching and psychology.

MeSH terms

  • Achievement*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Educational Measurement
  • Feedback, Psychological / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology*
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Retention, Psychology / physiology
  • Young Adult