In a recent New York Times essay (here), Henry Roediger explains the insights gleaned from his research on “the testing effect”— the enhanced memory that follows actively retrieving information, rather than simply rereading it. Psychologists sometimes also refer to this phenomenon as “test-enhanced learning,” or as the “retrieval practice effect” (because the benefits derive from the greater rehearsal of information when self-testing rather than rereading).
As Roediger explains, “used properly, testing as part of an educational routine provides an important tool not just to measure learning, but to promote it.”
For students and teachers, I offer a 5-minute animated explanation of the testing effect and how to apply it in one’s own study. (I intend this for a class presentation or viewing assignment in the first week of a course.) See Make Things Memorable! How to Study and Learn More Effectively.