Date of Award

Summer 8-15-2021

Author's School

Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Author's Department


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Type



Testing and spacing improve long-term retention and their combination boosts retention further. Despite the combined benefits of spaced testing, it is unclear whether these benefits extend to situations where students learn from lengthy and complex textbooks and need to use concept knowledge in novel ways. To address this issue, in the current study, college students were asked to read from a textbook and review key concepts twice, either back-to-back within the same session or in two sessions spaced two days apart. To review concepts, students either took definition quizzes with feedback (short-answer in Experiment 1, multiple-choice in Experiment 2) or restudied concept definitions. Two days after the last review, students took a short-answer criterial test that included definition and novel application questions. Both quiz formats improved performance on definition questions; however, quizzing benefits were less robust on novel application questions. Multiple-choice quizzes did not improve novel application performance and short-answer quizzes only did so when definition questions preceded application questions on the criterial test. Furthermore, spaced review did not improve performance on either question type. These findings present limitations of retrieval practice and distributed practice as study techniques when students’ goal is to flexibly use what they learned in novel ways.


English (en)

Chair and Committee

Henry L. Roediger

Committee Members

David Balota, Andrew Butler, Mark McDaniel, James Wertsch,