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Negative Suggestion Effects

Just as people learn correct information with frequent testing, they also can learn wrong information this way. For example, when incorrect alternatives on multiple choice tests are presented, the wrong answers can be learned instead of the correct answers. This effect is also found on short answer essay questions when students do not know the answers and use their general knowledge about the field to construct a response that seems reasonable to them. In this situation, learners recall their incorrect, but logically consistent response as being correct. These effects can be reduced when learners receive feedback immediately after taking a test which allows them to revise their memory and understanding without delay. 
  • Implications
    • Provide immediate feedback after testing to correct errors and overcome negative suggestions created by recalling incorrect responses. Teachers should provide feedback about correct responses as soon as the testing is completed. It is easier to achieve this goal when multiple short tests are given than when fewer, longer tests are given. 
  • References
    • Anderson, J. R., Corbett, A. T., Koedinger, K. R., & Pelletier, R. (1995). Cognitive tutors: Lessons learned. The Journal of Learning Sciences, 4(2), 167-207.
    • McTighe, J., & O‘Connor, K. (2005). Seven practices for effective learning. Educational Leadership, 63, 10-17.
    • Roediger, H. L. III, & Marsh, E. J. (2005). The positive and negative consequences of multiple-choice testing. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and  Cognition, 31, 1155-1159.
    • Shute, V. (2006).  Focus on formative feedback.  Unpublished Manuscript, Educational Testing Service, Princeton, NJ.  
    • Toppino, T. C.,  & Brochin, H. A. (1989). Learning from tests: The case of true-false  examinations. Journal of Educational Research, 83, 119-124.