Design for Self-Regulated Learning: Effect of Practice Test Format on Studying Behavior in Physics

Jason Morphew, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Purdue University

Preparing for high-stakes exams in introductory STEM courses is generally a self-regulated activity. Compared to other exam reviewing strategies, practice testing has been shown to produce better long-term retention particularly when spaced over time and interleaved with other active learning strategies. However, students are generally not instructed in research-based study skills such as practice testing which is a form of retrieval practice that encourages active learning and helps students recognize gaps in their knowledge. This leads many students, particularly low-performing students, to not use the practice tests efficiently when studying for exams. This study examines two interventions aimed at encouraging improving studying behavior and enhancing student metacognition. Preliminary results show that modifying the format of practice tests to one attempt per question with delayed feedback, increases the accuracy of feedback about their readiness for exams, however, students do not attend to the feedback nor change their study habits. Additionally, scores on a mock exam one week before the real exam impacts students’ intentions for studying but does not impact actual study habits or facilitate metacognition. These results suggest that interventions aimed at improving studying likely need to include explicit instruction on study strategies and beliefs about learning.


Tim Stelzer, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL; Muxin Zhang, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Champaign, IL