Using a Different Approach to Foster Student Recall

The cramming-and-forgetting cycle is all too common in student learning. One professor recently decided to implement a new approach to encourage long-term retention of material.

Kirk Fischer, an associate professor of accounting at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, in Texas, decided to change his “Survey of Accounting” course by replacing its three midterm exams with weekly quizzes and additional homework. Fischer’s goal was to inspire forced recall, which research shows is critical for students to retain material long-term. He tracked students’ performance and satisfaction to see if his method worked and shared the results with The Chronicle of Higher Education.

It turned out that students did not perform better on the final as a result of Fischer’s experiment, but they did express more satisfaction in course evaluations, he told The Chronicle. Even though the results weren’t what Fischer expected, he still plans to refine and use the same system in future iterations of the course. The method could produce more positive outcomes including higher retention rates in difficult courses.