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Exploring when and how the testing effect benefits learning in educational contexts

   Cardiff School of Psychology

About the Project

There are many strategies that aid the learning of new information in educational settings (e.g., taking notes and mind mapping). Traditionally, the process of testing has been viewed as a means to assess how much has been learned, rather than a process that facilitates learning. However, research has demonstrated that testing is more beneficial for learning than other strategies, both in terms of the amount remembered, and the duration it is remembered for. The testing effect seems counterintuitive: why would testing induce further learning? However, a recent meta-analysis has found evidence that supports three types of theory for the testing effect (see Yang, Luo, Vadillo, Yu & Shanks, 2021). Briefly, these theories suggest that the testing effect occurs due to participants having received more exposure to the material (additional exposure theory), using similar neural processes during the acquisition and assessment of knowledge (transfer-appropriate processing theory), and being more motivated to learn the material (motivation theory). This project seeks to gain a better understanding of why the testing effect occurs, and to explore the generality of the effect in educational settings.

Funding Notes

Applications from Home and International students are welcome. Studentships are awarded on a competitive basis in competition with other projects in the Open School competition. The number of international studentships is limited.
The studentship commences in October 2023, covers 3 years tuition fees and maintenance, with submission deadline of 4 years. The 2022/23 full-time maintenance grant was £17,668 p.a. School of Psychology students receive conference and participant money (~£2,250), computer, office space, access to courses and become members of the Doctoral Academy.


Yang, C., Luo, L., Vadillo, M. A., Yu, R. & Shanks, D. R. (2021). Testing (quizzing) boosts classroom learning: A systematic and meta-analytic review, Psychological Bulletin, 147, 399-435.

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