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Research project

APS Successive Relearning Intervention in Introductory Psychology

Project overview

Successive relearning (SR) is a learning technique that involves repeated retrieval practice of the same information (with feedback) over multiple, spaced sessions.

In the current study, we implemented SR in an introductory psychology class to explore a variety of potential learning benefits. After each weekly lecture, students were sent links via email to engage in three learning practice sessions (LPSs) separated by two days.

Half the students engaged in SR, which entailed answering 20 fill-in-the-blank questions with corrective feedback. Correctly answered questions were dropped out, but incorrectly answered questions were presented up to 2 more times per session until they were answered correctly.

The other half of students restudied 20 intact sentences without words missing. Unlike previous research, we controlled the exposure duration of the learning materials between the relearn and restudy conditions to remove it as a potential confounding variable.

LPSs continued throughout the 10 weeks of the semester, with the relearning and restudying tasks alternating each week for a given student for counterbalancing purposes.

As with previous research, recall of course material on retention tests at the end of the semester was better compared to restudying.

However, we also observed additional learning benefits which included (1) improved metacognition (2) reduced anxiety, (3) improved sense of mastery, and (4) enhanced attentional control. Student feedback indicated that they found SR to be enjoyable and valuable compared to restudying. Overall, our research indicates that SR is a valuable addition to any university course that is easy to implement using digital resources.


Lead researcher

Professor Philip Higham

Professor of Experimental Psychology

Research interests

  • Enhancing student learning in educational settings
  • Protecting social media users from fake news
  • Understanding the interplay of controlled and automatic influences of retrieval practice

Collaborating research institutes, centres and groups

Research outputs

Philip Higham,
Bettina Zengel,
Laura Bartlett,
& Julie A. Hadwin
, 2021 , Journal of Educational Psychology
Type: article