Author's School

Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

Author's Department/Program



English (en)

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Chair and Committee

Henry Roediger


The testing effect refers to the finding that retrieval practice can lead to enhanced recall on future tests. Despite being a widely researched phenomenon, the underlying mechanisms of the testing effect remain unknown, and basic issues are unresolved. The purpose of these experiments was to investigate how different response modalities influence retrieval both on initial and delayed tests. More specifically, we were interested in whether subjects can recall more via writing or speaking, whether writing: or speaking) on a first test can lead to better performance on a second test: and whether the type of second test would matter), and whether any form of overt retrieval on a first test leads to better performance on a final test compared to just thinking about a response. All of these questions were aimed at determining whether the beneficial effects of testing arise from the act of retrieval or are somehow tied to the production of the answer. Three experiments show that there are only small, if any, differences between typing and speaking performance, and that an initial covert retrieval will often yield the same benefit to future test performance as retrieval with an overt response production. The practical implications for education suggest that in rehearsing information, just thinking about an answer is just as beneficial to future retrieval as reporting answers aloud or writing them down.


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