The effects of test-enhanced learning on long-term retention in AAN annual meeting courses

Douglas P. Larsen, Andrew C. Butler, Wint Y. Aung, John R. Corboy, Deborah I Friedman, Michael R. Sperling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Objective: We measured the long-term retention of knowledge gained through selected American Academy of Neurology annual meeting courses and compared the effects of repeated quizzing (known as test-enhanced learning) and repeated studying on that retention. Methods: Participants were recruited from 4 annual meeting courses. All participants took a pretest. This randomized, controlled trial utilized a within-subjects design in which each participant experienced 3 different postcourse activities with each activity performed on different material. Each key information point from the course was randomized in a counterbalanced fashion among participants to one of the 3 activities: repeated short-answer quizzing, repeated studying, and no further exposure to the materials. A final test covering all information points from the course was taken 5.5 months after the course. Results: Thirty-five participants across the 4 courses completed the study. Average score on the pretest was 36%. Performance on the final test showed that repeated quizzing led to significantly greater long-term retention relative to both repeated studying (55% vs 46%; t[34] = 3.28, SEM = 0.03, p = 0.01, d = 0.49) and no further exposure (55% vs 44%; t[34] = 3.16, SEM = 0.03, p = 0.01, d = 0.58). Relative to the pretest baseline, repeated quizzing helped participants to retain almost twice as much of the knowledge acquired from the course compared to repeated studying or no further exposure. Conclusions: Whereas annual meeting continuing medical education (CME) courses lead to longterm gains in knowledge, when repeated quizzing is added, retention is significantly increased. CME planners may consider adding repeated quizzing to increase the impact of their courses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)748-754
Number of pages7
Issue number7
StatePublished - Feb 17 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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