Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2017

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Psychology & Neuroscience

First Advisor

Matt Jones

Second Advisor

Alice Healy

Third Advisor

Richard Olson

Fourth Advisor

Ben Kirshner


The testing effect describes a method of retrieval practice that benefits long term retention of learned material, over restudying and re-exposure (Roediger & Karpicke, 2006a). The benefits of testing have been implemented outside of psychology laboratories into classrooms around the US, but are still not being taken advantage of by students outside of lecture (Karpicke, Butler & Roediger, 2009). The current experiment seeks to acknowledge the testing effect as present in a widely used self-study website and further define the most effective retrieval practice students can implement within it. Fifty-eight introductory Psychology students at the University of Colorado, Boulder studied 30 Anthropology terms and their definitions in a paired associate learning format on Quizlet.com. The paired associates were split into different self-study modes on Quizlet.com: one restudy block, and two cued recall with feedback blocks that applied either a consistent direction of study to initial presentation, or inconsistent direction. Two days after the self-study session, participants took a final retention test to measure the retention of the learned paired associates. The test analyzed the bidirectional retention of the 30-paired associates with recognition questions and cued-recall questions that manipulated direction; majority of questions included the paired associates verbatim to the study session, some of the questions were not verbatim to initial study but rather applied the paired associate relationships to an example to measure for comprehensive, conceptual understanding. The results of this study were inconclusive due to a confound in study block and question items, but paved way for future implications for studies on real self-study methods of students today, and the importance of retrieval practice direction on the direction of final retention.