Research That Matters, Testing That Counts

How many students would vote to have more tests in their classes?  It’s hard to imagine that adding more tests would increase instructor popularity, but new research indicates that when testing is done in the right way, it can increase knowledge and be easy to swallow.  When students take frequent small quizzes at the start of class, encounter mixed tests (that draw on diverse skills), and just discuss class material in a study group, their mastery improves more than when they just take one or two large standardized tests.  Findings from this research are summarized in a recent New York Times article by Benedict Carey.  See

The 8th edition of Investigating the Social World encourages this active learning approach.  Research That Matters, Questions That Count vignettes that begin each chapter encourage a dialogue about key topics that can continue as they read the chapter.  The Research in the News vignettes within each chapter include questions that relate a contemporary social issue to methods in the chapter.  There are many more testing tools in the end-of-chapter material and on the student study site.  As Carey explains, information that is “embedded in a host of additional associations and connections” will be “much easier to recall.”  Try it; they just might like it!

This entry was posted in Chapter 1, Chapter 12, Chapter 16, Chapter 7, Teaching Tips and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Research That Matters, Testing That Counts

  1. This “testing to inform learning” approach was developed very systematically by my colleague, Paul Nestor, in the second edition of our text, Research Methods in Psychology. The chapters in that text begin with a formal quiz (for which answers are provided in the text). There are also follow-up questions on the book’s study site that can be used for a “post-test” of student learning. There’s a growing body of research that supports “testing before (and after) learning.” You can try one of the study site quizzes at: Do you think this is the way to go?


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