Previous studies have shown that retrieval practice leads to better long-term memory than additional study of a material (a phenomenon termed the testing effect). In this study, we compared the effectiveness of these learning strategies when the final test occurs under stress (such as in an exam). Participants studied word pairs; then half of the material was repeatedly studied, whereas the other half was repeatedly tested. Following a 7-day delay, participants were exposed to either a psychosocially stressful situation or a control task, followed by an associative recall task that tested memory for all items. Multiple measures were used to assess stress levels: emotional state assessments as well as assays of salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase levels. Results are in favour of the ecological validity of retrieval-based learning. Participants recalled more retested items than restudied items regardless of being exposed to a stressful situation and the hormonal (cortisol) response to stress.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)