You are on page 1of 9


Australian Journal of Psychology 2013; 65: 513

doi: 10.1111/ajpy.12004

Evidence-based teaching: Tools and techniques that promote

learning in the psychology classroom

Dana S. Dunn,1 Bryan K. Saville,2 Suzanne C. Baker,2 and Pam Marek3

Moravian College, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 2James Madison University, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and 3Kennesaw
State University, Kennesaw, Georgia, USA


Evidence-based teaching (EBT) entails the use of empirically validated pedagogical tools and techniques that promote student
learning. We offer a rationale for why psychology instructors should embrace EBT in their classrooms. We then review five areas of
evidence offering specific tools and techniques that improve learning and retention: the testing effect, spaced learning, metacognition,
writing to learn, and interteaching. We then briefly discuss how three student self-regulated choices can promote learning. Finally,
we urge psychology teachers and students to use the disciplines experimental findings to enhance student learning.

Key words: attention restoration theory, evidence-based teaching, interteaching, metacognition, spaced learning, testing effect,
writing to learn

Higher education (HE) continues to be buffeted by evidence evidence, that is, specific tools and techniques that enhance
that undergraduate students are not learning what they learning. Next, we turn the intellectual tables a bit by dis-
need to know to do well in university settings and subse- cussing how students can use evidence-based learning (EBL)
quently in the workplace and in life. Arum and Roska strategies outside of the classroom and how self-regulation is
(2011), for example, found that even after three semesters, important for learning. Finally, we encourage psychology
American college students critical thinking, complex teachers to adopt EBT in their classrooms.
reasoning, and writing skills showed little improvement.
Clearly, students need guidance to acclimate to and succeed
in college. But what sort of guidance? More to the point, THE CASE FOR EBT
how can teachers use their knowledge of psychology to help
students retain what they have learned? Why use EBT methods? We believe that the answer is
One possible antidote is to use evidence-based teaching straightforward: These methods have shown through rigor-
(EBT) practices in the classroom. The term evidence-based ous empirical testing to produce superior learning outcomes.
teaching refers to pedagogical tools and techniques that have And the need for increased learning outcomes may be as
shown through rigorous experimentation to promote learn- imperative now as ever before.
ing (Saville, 2010; Schwartz & Gurung, 2012). In this article, Over the past few decades, there has been increased
we offer a rationale for why psychology teachers around the concern by academicians that the level of learning occurring
world should embrace EBT in their classrooms. Indeed, we in secondary and post-secondary educational settings is not
believe the concerns and recommended responses raised in what it should be. For example, 30 years ago, Cameron
this article are relevant within and beyond our ken, the (1983) lamented, Most predictions about the future of col-
American HE system. We then review selected areas of leges and universities as organisations include conditions of
decline (p. 359). More recently, Hersh and Merrow (2005)
seemed to confirm Camerons pessimistic prediction by
Correspondence: Dana S. Dunn, Department of Psychology, Mora- stating, Higher education, long viewed as the crown jewel
vian College, 1200 Main Street, Bethlehem, PA 18018, USA. Email:
of American education, is tarnished (p. 1). Simply put, by
Received 16 October 2012. Accepted for publication 2 December many accounts, students do not seem to be learning what
2012. they should during an important developmental period in
2013 The Australian Psychological Society their lives.
6 D.S. Dunn et al.

Concerns about HE have moved beyond academic circles The testing effect
as well. For example, parents paying for their childrens
increasingly expensive educations want to be sure that Although most faculty and students consider tests as a way
they are getting a good return on their investments. Simi- to assess learning, fewer realise that taking tests actually
larly, employers want to know that recent graduates have enhances memory (e.g., Karpicke, Butler, & Roediger, 2009).
acquired the knowledge and skills necessary to help A burgeoning body of research provides convincing evidence
advance their business interests and economic goals. for the testing effect, or test-enhanced learning, the finding
Others, including economists and politicians, view educa- that students remember more information when they have
tion as one of the primary paths to economic security, previously been tested on study materials. Recent research
where increased knowledge seems to be a vital factor in has also highlighted the effectiveness of repeated testing in
achieving global success (e.g., Friedman, 2005; see also promoting the transfer of learning to new contexts (e.g.,
Buskist & Groccia, 2011). different types of testing or different knowledge domains;
So what are the possible reasons for the purported decline Carpenter, 2012).
in HE? Hersh and Merrow (2005) discussed several potential Testing effect research encompasses a wide range of test
causes: students who are unprepared for the rigors of HE, the formats. The types of tests used for both learning and final
belief that HE is nothing more than a path to job obtainment, assessment have included both recognition and recall
the mismatch between what students want out of HE and formats. Targeted information has included paired associates
what educational institutions are offering, and HE adminis- or word lists, information from lectures (Butler & Roediger,
trations that have become too focused on monetary out- 2007), and expository prose (e.g., Larsen, Butler, & Roediger,
comes. Robinson (2009) has also suggested that the recent 2009). Sometimes students have received feedback during
trend towards systematising curricula and assessment has the learning phase; in other cases, they have not (e.g.,
killed much of the motivation and creativity that are neces- Pashler, Cepeda, Wixted, & Rohrer, 2005; Vojdanoska,
sary for students to succeed in todays world. To this list, we Cranney, & Newell, 2010). Testing situations have involved
would like to add one other potential culprit: ineffective both open-book and closed-book conditions (Agarwal,
teaching methods. Karpicke, Kang, Roediger, & McDermott, 2008). Although
For many HE instructors, teaching means lecturing. some research has included the same material for learning
Moreover, as Buskist and Groccia (2011) noted, Most teach- and testing, other studies (e.g., Chan, McDermott, & Roedi-
ers base their instructional practices on tradition, the opinion ger, 2006) have used related but different material on initial
of experienced practitioners, ideology, faddism, marketing, and final tests. Retention intervals have extended from one
politics, or personal experience gained through trial and day to several days or weeks. Results vary depending upon
error (p. 5). Unfortunately, many of these practices do not the variables being manipulated; for example, as might be
concur with what is known about human learning (Halpern expected, feedback enhances subsequent performance on
& Hakel, 2003; Saville, 2010). Consequently, many of the items that students initially answer incorrectly (Pashler
methods that appear in classrooms may not be producing the et al., 2005; Vojdanoska et al., 2010). Overall, the prepon-
types of learning that are necessary to succeed in a rapidly derance of evidence shows strong support for test-enhanced
changing world. Although many of the factors mentioned by learning and remembering, particularly when instructors
Hersh and Merrow (2005) may be beyond the reach of any provide feedback and adequate time for processing it (Butler
single teacher, it is important for teachers to control what & Roediger, 2007).
they canand one such variable is the teaching methods Explanations for the benefits of testing often focus on the
they adopt in their classrooms. In short, to help produce the processes underlying retrieval practice. Retrieval of previ-
types of learning outcomes that will allow students to ously studied information strengthens existing associative
succeed in todays world, it is vital that teachers adopt memory links between related cues and the targeted infor-
methods that improve student learning and enjoymentin mation (Carpenter, 2011). In turn, stronger links facilitate
other words, EBT. subsequent access to subsequent retrieval of information.
Furthermore, Karpicke and Blunt (2011) have suggested
that retrieval practice helps differentiate more effective
AREAS OF EVIDENCE: A REVIEW versus less effective cues. Both explanations offer a clear
rationale for the use of repeated testing to enhance retention
Later we discuss several teaching strategies and techniques of and access to knowledge.
that have been demonstrated to be effective. Although we do The addition of more frequent testing in the classroom
not provide an exhaustive review of EBT, the techniques we seems to be the most obvious way to take advantage of the
highlight include methods that are relatively easy to imple- testing effect. Indeed, Leeming (2002) found that students in
ment in most psychology classrooms. courses including a short exam at the beginning of each class
2013 The Australian Psychological Society
Evidence-based teaching 7

scored higher on a final exam than students in courses distributed practice (Rawson & Kintsch, 2005), particularly if
including only three exams. Of course, instructors decisions testing did not occur immediately after learning. Moreover,
to incorporate additional testing may depend on how much the value of distributed practice also extends to conceptual
class time they have available or may be constrained by learning (Wahlheim et al., 2011). Thus, over a century of
institutional guidelines. In such instances, instructors may research has revealed that studying information or practising
develop assessments (either formative or summative) for skills in multiple short sessions yields greater long-term
students to complete online or may direct students to avail- retention than consolidating study or practice into a single
able self-tests on textbook companion websites with imme- long session (i.e., cramming) for a comparable amount
diate feedback available. For example, Yandell and Bailey of time.
(2011) concluded that online, pre-class computer-graded There are multiple explanations for why the spacing effect
quizzes that provided immediate feedback and saved class occurs. One explanation is based on the idea that people are
time can also encourage students to read regularly and par- more likely to retrieve information if the information is
ticipate in class. Another formative option is to assess an accessible via a wide variety of retrieval cues. Because the
entire classs topical knowledge simultaneously by having context for encoding information often differs from one
students respond with clickers so that right (and wrong) study session to another, multiple study sessions provide
responses are recognised and subsequently discussed. As more retrieval cues (Cepeda, Pashler, Vul, Wixted, & Rohrer,
another alternative, instructors could explain the benefits of 2006). Another explanation emphasises encoding when
using EBL strategies such as repeated testing and then studying textual material for a second time. In a massed
encourage students to test themselves while studying. For situation, with the second reading immediately following
example, McDaniel, Howard, and Einstein (2009) reported the first, information from the initial reading may still be
that students who used the read-recite-review technique active in working memory. The active information conveys a
boosted performance on a free recall test of textbook mate- sense of familiarity that leads people only to skim the mate-
rial more than students who spent an equivalent amount of rial. In contrast, with distributed practice, the information
time spent rereading or taking notes. In a similar vein, is deactivated with the passage of time. Essentially, then,
instructors who provide learning outcomes for each chapter people adopt more effective encoding strategies that pro-
or unit might suggest that students respond to each outcome mote greater retention (Krug, Davis, & Glover, 1990).
after studying and then check their own answers or have Yet a third explanation for the spacing effect focuses on
their answers checked by peers. neurobiological processes relating to memory consolidation.
Clearly, how instructors design their courses will depend Two aspects of consolidation appear to relate to the greater
on a number of factors. Nevertheless, the available evidence effectiveness of distributed practice. First, consolidation
for the testing effect should encourage instructors to con- throughout the memory system takes time (Squire &
sider integrating more frequent testing or other activities Alvarez, 1995). Second, when people process material for a
that require retrieval into their courses. As Karpicke (2012) second time, the new memory trace builds on the strength of
argued, Spending time actively attempting to retrieve and the first one in long-term memory (Cepeda et al., 2006).
reconstruct ones knowledge is a simple yet powerful way to When practice is distributed, information from the initial
enhance long-term, meaningful learning (p. 162). session has time to strengthen before relearning.
Even with a relatively large literature on the spacing
effect, there are still many unanswered questions about the
Spaced learning
optimal time between practice sessions and how the time
With any considerable number of repetitions a suitable dis- between sessions relates to the delay between final study
tribution of them over a space of time is decidedly more and test. For example, Bahrick and Hall (2005) suggested
advantageous than the massing of them at a single time that longer intervals between study sessions are beneficial
(Ebbinghaus, 1885, ch. 8, sec. 34, para. 6). Evidence sup- because longer intervals provide learners with a better
porting the spacing effect emanates from an expansive body opportunity to identify retrieval failures, which may encour-
of research with a variety of populations including animals age learners to adopt more effective encoding strategies
(Sisti, Glass, & Shors, 2007), young children (Vlach & Sand- (see, e.g., Rawson & Kintsch, 2005). Cepeda et al. (2009)
hofer, 2012), older adults (Wahlheim, Dunlosky, & Jacoby, suggested that the time between distributed study sessions
2011), and HE students. With HE students, the majority of that was associated with the best test performance seemed to
researchers have identified the benefits of distributed prac- increase as the time between the final study session and the
tice as it pertains to memory for verbal material. In most test increased. However, a longer gap between study sessions
cases, the study items involved word lists or word pairs such is not always better. For example, in an experiment
as those used in foreign language learning (Bahrick & Hall, (Verkoeijen, Rikers, & zsoy, 2008) involving two study
2005), but memory for prose material also benefits from opportunities for textual material spaced immediately after
2013 The Australian Psychological Society
8 D.S. Dunn et al.

one another, 4 days apart, or 3.5 weeks apart, students who through the steps necessary to solve some problem (e.g.,
studied 4 days apart performed better on a test 2 days later crafting a logical argument, defending a position opposite
than students who restudied the text immediately. Students ones beliefs, and writing a literature review for an empirical
in the 3.5 week and immediate conditions, however, per- paper). Further research on metacognition in educational
formed similarly. In this case, the inability to retrieve mate- settings can be found in Dimmitt and McCormick (2012).
rial 3.5 weeks later appeared to outweigh the potential Metacognitive skills can be fostered through a variety of
benefit of differential encoding. techniques, and it is worth noting that helping students
Given the multiple factors influencing the spacing effect, identify what they do and do not know is, at the very least,
how might instructors use this research to benefit their stu- an implicit goal of the other strategies we discuss here.
dents? Because some form of distributed practice consist-
ently boosts learning, one application is clear: Instructors
Writing to learn
should encourage students to use another EBL strategy, spe-
cifically, spacing study sessions rather than cramming before The development of writing skills is an important goal of
examinations. Although students may already understand undergraduate education. Psychology instructors typically
the advantage of spaced practice (Toppino & Cohen, 2010), assess student performance on writing assignments to check
understanding its value is quite different from actually using understanding of course content, as well as to evaluate skills
it. Perhaps one way for instructors to boost long-term reten- in written expression. Although demonstrating content
tion with spaced practice is to introduce the same key con- knowledge and writing skills are traditional uses of writing
cepts systematically at multiple points in the semester. assignments, less recognised is the role that writing can play
Another possibility might involve including more frequent in student learning.
quizzes (either formative or summative) to promote more Writing involves multiple activities that engage metacog-
frequent study and simultaneously allowing students to nitive processes (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1987; Berninger,
accrue benefits from the testing effect. 2012). The writing-to-learn approach is based on the con-
ception that writing about a topic can help students identify
areas of confusion or lack of knowledge, reason through
Metacognition: Thoughts about thinking
problems, and bring concepts together in new ways. As
One of the most important skills students can acquire is Forsyth (2003) pointed out, writing assignments can be
knowing what they already know. In effect, students need to exercises in learning (p. 114) that help students identify
be able to think critically about their thinking, or what and define problems, evaluate evidence, analyse assump-
psychologists call metacognition. Our metacognitions can tions, recognise emotional reasoning and oversimplification,
affect both what we do and how well we accomplish our consider alternative interpretations, and reduce their uncer-
actions; in fact, thinking about thinking can heighten, tainty (p. 115). Dunn (2011) discussed writing for self-
diminish, or change the direction of our original thoughts understanding, highlighting the role that writing can play in
(e.g., Briol & DeMarree, 2012). Metacognitive skills helping students actively process and learn course material.
develop in childhood and represent a change from other- Writing-to-learn strategies can be implemented in multiple
directed learning to self-regulated learning (Dimmitt & ways. A hallmark of all writing to learn activities, however,
McCormick, 2012). is the use of the targeted writing assignments that require
One approach to promoting metacognitive learning students to apply, integrate, or reflect on some content
(another form of EBL) involves teaching students to develop knowledge.
procedural knowledge regarding particular academic tasks, Positive effects of writing-to-learn activities have been
such as outlining, drafting, and revising a persuasive essay demonstrated across several disciplines, using different
on a specific course topic. More critical, reflective note taking techniques. For example, Balgopal, Wallace, and Dahlberg
(e.g., rewriting and revising notes after a class period ends), (2012) have examined the effects of guided writing assign-
too, can promote learning and retention (Dunn, 2011). ments (reflective essays) on introductory biology students
Strategies for performing such tasks should be taught and ecological literacy. Papadopoulos, Demetriadis, Stamelos,
repeated with some regularity so that students learn to use and Tsoukalas (2011) used writing prompts to enhance
these skills in other classes. A key issue here is that teachers learning in an online computer science class. They found
must help students learn to become responsible where intel- that students in a writing group scored higher on post-tests
lectual tasks are concerned (Baker, 2008). In effect, students than students in either of two control groups. Stewart,
need to develop self-assessment skills regarding their execu- Myers, and Culley (2010) examined the use of in-class
tion of college-level work (Dunn, McEntarffer, & Halonen, writing in a psychology of women course. During several
2004). Part of the effort to develop metacognitive skills class periods, students wrote short, structured essays
entails self-talk, where students literally talk themselves designed to elicit critical thinking about topics in the course.
2013 The Australian Psychological Society
Evidence-based teaching 9

Students were later tested on material covered in these discussions, the instructor circulates among the groups,
writing assignments, and their scores were compared with answering questions and guiding the discussions. Following
those of students in a control psychology of women class the discussions, students complete a record sheet on which
that covered the same material but did not experience the they list, among other things, which prep-guide items were
writing assignments. Those in the writing-focused class difficult to understand and which items they would like the
scored higher on these subsequent learning assessments. instructor to review. Based on this information, the instruc-
Other strategies that require students to think about and tor prepares a brief lecture that targets the items that most
reflect on content often include a writing component. For students had trouble understanding. The lecture starts the
example, Connor-Greene (2005) introduced questions, next class period and precedes students discussion of
quotations, and talking points (QQTPs) to facilitate mean- the next prep guide.
ingful class discussion. With QQTPs, students complete a In addition to this general structure, interteaching has
one-page paper prior to class in which they identify a ques- other components. For example, Boyce and Hineline (2002)
tion, a quotation, and some talking points based on a reading suggested that instructors should give at least five exams
assignment. They then use these papers as a basis for class during the semester, which gives students ample opportu-
discussion. Angelo and Cross (1993) also presented multiple nity to show what they know and allows them to get used
class assessment techniques (e.g. minute papers, muddiest to interteaching. Boyce and Hineline also suggested that
point, word journal, invented dialogues) that involve the exams should be closely linked to the prep guides. As a
writing. Any of these activities may be useful in increasing result, students know that completing the prep guides and
student learning. having substantive class discussions will provide practice for
Evaluating students writing can take a lot of time, which the exams. To improve discussion quality, Boyce and Hine-
is enough to make many instructors shy away from multiple line introduced the concept of quality points, where part of
writing assignments. But as Dunn (1994) pointed out, a students course grade (up to 10%) depends on how his or
writing to learn activities need not require an inordinate her discussion partners answered some of their exam ques-
amount of feedback from faculty to be useful (e.g., see Korn tions (but see Saville and Zinn, 2009, for a study showing no
& Sikorski, 2010). For example, Nevid, Pastva, and McClel- impact of quality points on exam grades). Finally, Boyce and
land (2012) found that brief ungraded writing assignments Hineline suggested that students should receive a small
in introductory psychology improved test performance over number of participation points each day (which total 10%
the same material. Ultimately, frequent writing may be one of their course grades). This increases the likelihood that
way to improve student learning. students will attend class.
Since Boyce and Hinelines (2002) introduction of inter-
teaching, a growing body of research has examined its effi-
cacy relative to more traditional teaching methods. In an
Interteaching (Boyce & Hineline, 2002) is a multi- early, lab-based study of interteaching, Saville, Zinn, and
component teaching method that has its roots in B. F. Elliott (2005) assigned students to one of four teaching con-
Skinners behavioural psychology. Although behavioural ditions: interteaching, lecture, reading, or control. Students
teaching methods have been around for over 50 years (e.g., took part in an initial teaching session and then returned 1
Skinner, 1954/1999), interteaching is relatively new. A week later to take a quiz. Students who took part in inter-
growing body of research suggests that interteaching is a teaching answered significantly more questions correctly
viable alternative to more traditional teaching methods (see than students in the other three conditions. In a subsequent
Saville, Lambert, & Robertson, 2011, for a review). study, Saville, Zinn, Neef, Van Norman, and Ferreri (2006)
In a typical interteaching session, the instructor first pre- compared interteaching with lecture in a graduate-level
pares a preparation (prep) guide, which contains questions special education course (study 1) and in two sections of an
(typically from 5 to 12 items) designed to guide students undergraduate research methods course (study 2). In both
through a reading assignment. The prep-guide items contain studies, students earned higher exam scores following inter-
both lower and higher level questions that require students teaching sessions; students also reported that they preferred
to define, analyse, apply, and synthesise course information. interteaching to lectures. More recently, researchers have
The instructor usually distributes the prep guide several days found that interteaching seems to improve critical thinking
before it is due, and students complete it before class. (Saville, Zinn, Lawrence, Barron, & Andre, 2008; Scoboria &
Each class period starts with a brief lecture in which the Pascual-Leone, 2009) and that it benefits students with both
instructor reviews material from the previous class (see later low and high grade point averages (Saville, Pope, Truelove,
for more information). Students then spend most of & Williams, in press). Finally, although most research on
the remaining time in pairs discussing their responses to the interteaching has been conducted in psychology courses,
prep-guide items they answered before class. During the researchers have begun to examine interteaching in
2013 The Australian Psychological Society
10 D.S. Dunn et al.

non-psychology courses (e.g., Cannella-Malone, Axe, & many students enjoy recreational pursuits because of
Parker, 2009; Emurian & Zheng, 2010; Goto & Schneider, the relative freedom that universities allow. In short,
2010; Tsui, 2010; Zeller, 2010). Together, these results sleep deprivation is a hallmark of undergraduate students
suggest that interteaching is an effective, evidence-based experiences.
alternative to more traditional teaching methods. Unfortunately, when students become sleep deprived,
physical and mental performance suffers (Walker & Stick-
gold, 2004). The great challenge for instructors, of course,
REMINDING STUDENTS OF THE LINK BETWEEN is convincing students that they cannot get by and be
SELF-REGULATION AND LEARNING successful with less than the recommended amount of sleep
per night, as many students believe that their own experi-
As quality principle 1 of the principles for quality under- ences defy the available evidence.
graduate education in psychology (American Psychological
Association [APA], 2011; Halpern et al. 2010) attests, stu- Becoming open minded regarding basic study habits
dents are ultimately responsible for their own learning.
Although teachers of psychology should share information Students often claim to know which approaches to studying
with students regarding what types of EBL strategies work well, at least in their individual experiences. The chief
promote or inhibit learning, students must learn to engage in problem is that few students ever subject their suppositions
self-regulation to advance their own academic interests. We to simple experimentation (e.g., trying a new study habit to
review three choices that students can make (and that teach- test its effectiveness). Consider this example: Students often
ers may wish to review) that can have a positive effect on claim that studying while listening to music is not detrimen-
learning. tal to their learning (in spite of the fact that research does not
support this conclusion; e.g., Gurung, Weidert, & Jeske,
Pauses that refresh: Pastoral breaks 2010). Thus, we advocate that teachers not only share the
available evidence but that they encourage students to test
Researchers who study Attention Restoration Theory claim their assumptions.
that people demonstrate better concentration after spending Gurung and McCann (2012) provided a long list of actions
time in nature (e.g., in parks or gardens), seeing nature from students can take to assume responsibility for and to max-
indoors (e.g., looking out a window at a copse of trees), or imise their learning. Many of the items found in this list
viewing images of natural settings (e.g., Hartig, Evans, (e.g., review assignments before class and use study guides)
Jamner, Davis, & Grling, 2003; Kaplan, 1995; Kaplan & seem commonsensical, but as Voltaire (1764/1950) reminds
Kaplan, 1989). Experiencing nature directly or indirectly has us, common sense is not so common (p. 79). Sharing such
decided cognitive and emotional benefits. One set of studies, basic recommendations and explaining their effectiveness
for example, found that exposure to such restorative envi- can prompt students to try out and perhaps adopt some
ronments eased peoples recovery from mental fatigue evidence-based, self-regulated learning suggestions.
caused by performing a sustained attention test, thereby
restoring their later capacities to direct attention (Berto,
2005). Other research has demonstrated that interacting
with nature improves cognition and emotion among
individuals who are depressed (Berman et al., 2012) and
As most educators will attest, teaching is a tricky business
improves memory in HE students (Berman, Jonides, &
not only because of complex factors that occur within the
Kaplan, 2008).
classroom but also because of external factors that, for better
The take-home message for students is simple and
or worse, have a significant impact on our educational
straightforward: Taking pastoral breaks by going outside or
system. Unfortunately, by many accounts, these factors have
looking at images of nature is physically, intellectually, and
not produced the most positive results. But there is hope.
emotionally restorative. Students can reduce their stress and
Psychology is one of the few disciplines in which teachers
enhance their attention by taking frequent study breaks, and
and students can use what they know about their own
teachers should encourage their students to do so.
subject matter to produce positive changes. One specific way
to do this is for teachers to incorporate EBTs in their class-
Sufcient sleep
rooms. At the same time, teachers can show their students
Lack of sleep is a well-documented psychological problem how to use EBL strategies. In both cases, these applications
(Dement & Vaughn, 2000). Undergraduate life is rife with are likely to have a positive effect on psychological literacy, a
student stories of pulling all nighters to study for an exam desired outcome in undergraduate psychology education
or to complete some other assignment. At the same time, (e.g., APA, 2011). In this article, we have discussed a handful
2013 The Australian Psychological Society
Evidence-based teaching 11

of empirically supported techniquesEBTs and EBLsthat Butler, A. C., & Roediger, H. L., III (2007). Testing improves long-
teachers of psychology can incorporate into their classrooms term retention in a simulated classroom setting. European Journal
of Cognitive Psychology, 19, 514527.
and that students can use on their own. Of course, the Cameron, K. (1983). Strategic responses to conditions of decline:
introduction of new and unfamiliar teaching methods may Higher education and the private sector. Journal of Higher Educa-
be met with some skepticism. Certainly, as Saville (2010) tion, 54, 359380.
noted, implementing any new teaching method can be Cannella-Malone, H. I., Axe, J. B., & Parker, E. D. (2009). Interteach
preparation: A comparison of the effects of answering versus
tricky and sometimes frustrating, especially in classroom set- generating study guide questions on quiz scores. Journal of the
tings where students have grown accustomed to lectures Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 9, 2235.
(p. 51). But with consistent use and a little tweaking to fit Carpenter, S. K. (2011). Semantic information activated during
each specific situation, the application of EBT and learning retrieval contributes to later retention: Support for the mediator
effectiveness hypothesis of the testing effect. Journal of Experimen-
strategies is likely to have a positive and extended impact on tal Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 37, 15471552.
student learning and enjoyment. doi:10.1037/a0024140
Carpenter, S. K. (2012). Testing enhances the transfer of learning.
Current Directions in Psychological Science, 21, 279283. doi:
Cepeda, N. J., Coburn, N., Rohrer, D., Wixted, J. T., Mozer, M. C., &
REFERENCES Pashler, H. (2009). Optimizing distributed practice: Theoretical
analysis and practical implications. Experimental Psychology, 56,
Agarwal, P. K., Karpicke, J. D., Kang, S. H. K., Roediger, H. L., III, & 236246. doi:10.1027/1618-3169.56.4.236
McDermott, K. B. (2008). Examining the testing effect with Cepeda, N. J., Pashler, H., Vul, E., Wixted, J. T., & Rohrer, D. (2006).
open- and closed-book tests. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 22, 861 Distributed practice in verbal recall tasks: A review and quanti-
876. tative synthesis. Psychological Bulletin, 132, 354380. doi:10.1037/
American Psychological Association (2011). Principles for quality 0033-2909.132.3.354
undergraduate education in psychology. American Psychologist, 66, Chan, J. C. K., McDermott, K. B., & Roediger, H. L., III (2006).
850856. doi:10.1037/a0025181 Retrieval induced facilitation: Initially nontested material can
Angelo, T. A., & Cross, K. P. (1993). Classroom assessment techniques: A benefit from prior testing of related material. Journal of Experi-
handbook for college teachers (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey- mental Psychology: General, 135, 553571.
Bass. Connor-Greene, P. A. (2005). Fostering meaningful classroom dis-
Arum, R., & Roska, J. (2011). Academically adrift: Limited learning on cussions: Student-generated questions, quotations, and talking
college campuses. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. points. Teaching of Psychology, 32, 173175.
Bahrick, H. P., & Hall, L. K. (2005). The importance of retrieval Dement, W. E., & Vaughn, C. (2000). The promise of sleep. New York:
failures to long-term retention: A metacognitive explanation of Dell.
the spacing effect. Journal of Memory and Language, 52, 566577. Dimmitt, C., & McCormick, C. B. (2012). Metacognition in educa-
doi:10.1016/j.jml.2005.01.012 tion. In K. R. Harris, S. Graham, & T. Urdan (Eds.), APA educa-
Baker, L. (2008). Metacognition in comprehension instruction: tional psychology handbook: Vol 1. Theories, constructs, and critical issues
What weve learned since NRP. In C. C. Block & S. R. Parris (pp. 157187). Washington, DC: American Psychological Asso-
(Eds.), Comprehension instruction: Research-based best practices (2nd ciation. doi:10.1037/13273-007
ed.). (pp. 6579). New York: Guilford Press. Dunn, D. S. (1994). Lessons learned from an interdisciplinary
Balgopal, M. M., Wallace, A. M., & Dahlberg, S. (2012). Writing to writing course: Implications for student writing in psychology.
learn ecology: A study of three populations of college students. Teaching of Psychology, 21, 223227.
Environmental Education Research, 18, 6790. Dunn, D. S. (2011). A short guide to writing about psychology (3rd ed.).
Bereiter, C., & Scardamalia, M. (1987). The psychology of written New York: Pearson Longman.
composition. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum. Dunn, D. S., McEntarffer, R., & Halonen, J. S. (2004). Empowering
Berman, M. G., Jonides, J., & Kaplan, S. (2008). The cognitive psychology students through self-assessment. In D. S. Dunn, C.
benefits of interacting with nature. Psychological Science, 19(12), M. Mehrotra, & J. S. Halonen (Eds.), Measuring up: Assessment
12071212. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02225.x challenges and practices for psychology (pp. 171186). Washington,
Berman, M. G., Kross, E., Krpan, K. M., Askren, M. K., Burson, A., DC: American Psychological Association.
Deldin, P. J., Jonides, J. (2012). Interacting with nature improves Ebbinghaus, H. (1885). Memory: A contribution to experimental
cognition and affect for individuals with depression. Journal of psychology. (H. A. Ruger & C. H. Bussenius, Trans.) In C. A.
Affective Disorders, 140, 300305. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2012.03.012 Green (Ed.), Classics in the Teaching of Psychology. Retrieved from
Berninger, V. W. (Ed.) (2012). Past, present, and future contribution of
cognitive writing research to cognitive psychology. New York: Psychol- Emurian, H. H., & Zheng, P. (2010). Programmed instruction and
ogy Press. interteaching applications to teaching Java(TM): A systematic
Berto, R. (2005). Exposure to restorative environments helps replication. Computers in Human Behavior, 26, 11661175.
restore attentional capacity. Journal of Environmental Psychology, Forsyth, D. R. (2003). The professors guide to teaching: Psychological
25(3), 249259. doi:10.1016/j.jenvp.2005.07.001 principles and practices. Washington DC: American Psychological
Boyce, T. E., & Hineline, P. N. (2002). Interteaching: A strategy for Association.
enhancing the user-friendliness of behavioral arrangements in Friedman, T. L. (2005). The world is flat: A brief history of the twenty-first
the college classroom. Behavior Analyst, 25, 215226. century. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Briol, P., & DeMarree, K. G. (2012). Social metacognition. New York: Goto, K., & Schneider, J. (2010). Learning through teaching: Chal-
Psychology Press. lenges and opportunities in facilitating student learning in food
Buskist, W., & Groccia, J. (Eds.) (2011). Evidence-based teaching: New science and nutrition by using the interteaching approach.
directions in teaching and learning. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Journal of Food Science Education, 9, 3135.

2013 The Australian Psychological Society

12 D.S. Dunn et al.

Gurung, R. A. R., Weidert, J., & Jeske, A. S. (2010). A closer look at Rawson, K. A., & Kintsch, W. (2005). Rereading effects depend
how students study (and if it matters). Journal of the Scholarship of on time of test. Journal of Educational Psychology, 97, 7080.
Teaching and Learning, 10, 2833. doi:10.1037/0022-0663.97.1.70
Gurung, R. R., & McCann, L. I. (2012). How should students study? Robinson, K. (2009). The element: How finding your passion changes
In B. M. Schwartz & R. R. Gurung (Eds.), Evidence-based teaching everything. New York, NY: The Penguin Group.
for higher education (pp. 99116). Washington, DC: American Psy- Saville, B. K. (2010). Using evidence-based teaching methods to
chological Association. doi:10.1037/13745-006 improve education. In S. A. Meyers & J. R. Stowell (Eds.), Essays
Halpern, D. F., Anton, B., Beins, B. C., Bernstein, D. J., Blair- from e-xcellence in teaching (pp. 4854). (Vol. 9), Published on
Broeker, C. T., Brewer, C. L., . . . Rocheleau, C. A. (2010). Prin- the Society for the Teaching of Psychology Web site. Retrieved
ciples for quality undergraduate education in psychology. In D. F. from
Halpern (Ed.), Undergraduate education in psychology: A blueprint for index.php
the future of the discipline (pp. 161173). Washington, DC: Saville, B. K., Lambert, T., & Robertson, S. (2011). Interteaching:
American Psychological Association. doi:10.1037/12063-010 Bringing behavioral education into the 21st century. Psychological
Halpern, D. F., & Hakel, M. D. (2003). Applying the science of Record, 61, 153166.
learning to the university and beyond. Change, 35(4), 3642. Saville, B. K., Pope, D., Truelove, J., & Williams, J. (in press). The
Hartig, T., Evans, G. W., Jamner, L. D., Davis, D. S., & Grling, T. relation between GPA and exam performance during interteach-
(2003). Tracking restoration in natural and urban field settings. ing and lecture. Behavior Analyst Today.
Journal of Environmental Psychology, 23(2), 109123. doi:10.1016/ Saville, B. K., & Zinn, T. E. (2009). Interteaching: The effects of
S0272-4944(02)00109-3 quality points on exam scores. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis,
Hersh, R. H., & Merrow, J. (Eds.) (2005). Declining by degrees: Higher 42, 369374. doi:10.1901/jaba.2009.42-369
education at risk. New York: Palgrave McMillan. Saville, B. K., Zinn, T. E., & Elliott, M. P. (2005). Interteaching versus
Kaplan, R., & Kaplan, S. (1989). The experience of nature: A psychologi- traditional methods of instruction: A preliminary analysis. Teach-
cal perspective. New York: Cambridge University Press. ing of Psychology, 32, 161163.
Kaplan, S. (1995). The restorative benefits of nature: Toward an Saville, B. K., Zinn, T. E., Lawrence, N. K., Barron, K. E., & Andre,
integrative framework. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 15, J. (2008). Teaching critical thinking in statistics and research
169182. methods. In D. S. Dunn, J. S. Halonen, & R. A. Smith (Eds.),
Karpicke, J. D. (2012). Retrieval-based learning: Active retrieval Teaching critical thinking in psychology: A handbook of best practices
promotes meaningful learning. Current Directions in Psychological (pp. 149160). Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Science, 21, 157163. doi:10.1177/0963721412443552 Saville, B. K., Zinn, T. E., Neef, N. A., Van Norman, R., & Ferreri,
Karpicke, J. D., & Blunt, J. R. (2011). Retrieval practice produces S. J. (2006). A comparison of interteaching and lecture in the
more learning than elaborative studying with concept mapping. college classroom. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 39, 4961.
Science, 331, 772775. doi:10.1126/science.1199327 Schwartz, B. M., & Gurung, R. A. R. (Eds.) (2012). Evidence-based
Karpicke, J. D., Butler, A. C., & Roediger, III, H. L. (2009). Meta- teaching for higher education. Washington, DC: American Psycho-
cognitive strategies in student learning: Do students practise logical Association.
retrieval when they study on their own? Memory, 17, 471479. Scoboria, A., & Pascual-Leone, A. (2009). An interteaching
doi:10.1080/09658210802647009 informed approach to instructing large undergraduate classes.
Korn, J. H., & Sikorski, J. (2010). A guide for beginning teachers Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, 9, 2937.
of psychology. Retrieved from the Society for the Teaching Sisti, H. M., Glass, A. L., & Shors, T. J. (2007). Neurogenesis and the
of Psychology Web site: spacing effect: Learning over time enhances memory and the
guide2010/index.php survival of new neurons. Learning and Memory, 14, 368375.
Krug, D., Davis, T., & Glover, J. A. (1990). Massed versus distributed Skinner, B. F. (1954). The science of learning and the art of teaching.
repeated reading: A case of forgetting helping recall? Journal Harvard Educational Review, 24, 8697. (Reprinted in Cumulative
of Educational Psychology, 82, 366371. doi:10.1037/0022-0663. record, definitive edition, pp. 179-191, 1999, Cambridge, MA:
82.2.366 B. F. Skinner Foundation).
Larsen, D. P., Butler, A. C., & Roediger, H. L. III (2009). Repeated Squire, L., & Alvarez, P. (1995). Retrograde amnesia and memory
testing improves long-term retention relative to repeated study: consolidation: A neurobiological perspective. Current Opinion in
A randomised controlled trial. Medical Education, 43, 11741181. Neurobiology, 5, 169177.
doi:10.1111/j.1365-2923.2009.03518 Stewart, T. L., Myers, A. C., & Culley, M. R. (2010). Enhanced
Leeming, F. C. (2002). The exam-a-day procedure improves per- learning and retention through writing to learn in the psychol-
formance in psychology classes. Teaching of Psychology, 29, 210 ogy classroom. Teaching of Psychology, 37, 4649. doi: 10.1080/
212. 00986280903425813
McDaniel, M. A., Howard, D. C., & Einstein, G. O. (2009). The Toppino, T. C., & Cohen, M. S. (2010). Metacognitive control and
readrecitereview study strategy: Effective and portable. Psycho- spaced practice: Clarifying what people do and why. Journal of
logical Science, 20, 516522. Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 36, 1480
Nevid, J. S., Pastva, A., & McClelland, N. (2012). Writing-to-learn 1491. doi:10.1037/a0020949
assignments in introductory psychology: Is there a learning Tsui, M. (2010). Interteaching: Students as teachers in lower-
benefit? Teaching of Psychology, 39, 272275. doi: 10.1177/ division sociology courses. Teaching Sociology, 38, 2834.
009862831245662 Verkoeijen, P. L., Rikers, R. P., & zsoy, B. (2008). Distributed
Papadopoulos, P. M., Demetriadis, S. N., Stamelos, I. G., & Tsoukalas, rereading can hurt the spacing effect in text memory. Applied
I. A. (2011). The value of writing-to-learn when using question Cognitive Psychology, 22, 685695. doi:10.1002/acp.1388
prompts to support web-based learning in ill-structured domains. Vlach, H. A., & Sandhofer, C. M. (2012). Distributing learning over
Educational Technology Research and Development, 59, 7190. time: The spacing effect in childrens acquisition and generaliza-
Pashler, H., Cepeda, N. J., Wixted, J. T., & Rohrer, D. (2005). When tion of science concepts. Child Development, 83, 11371144.
does feedback facilitate learning of words? Journal of Experimental doi:10.1111/j.1467-8624.2012.01781.x
Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, 31, 38. doi:10.1037/ Vojdanoska, M., Cranney, J., & Newell, B. R. (2010). The testing
0278-7393.31.1.3 effect: The role of feedback and collaboration in a tertiary

2013 The Australian Psychological Society

Evidence-based teaching 13

classroom setting. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 24, 11831195. Yandell, L. R., & Bailey, W. N. (2011). Online quizzes: Improving
doi:10.1002/acp.1630 reading compliance and student learning. In D. S. Dunn, J. H.
Voltaire (1950). Philosophical dictionary (Vol. 1). New York: Carlton Wilson, J. E. Freeman, & J. R. Stowell (Eds.), Best practices for
House. (Original work published 1764). technology-enhanced teaching and learning (pp. 271282). New York:
Wahlheim, C. N., Dunlosky, J., & Jacoby, L. L. (2011). Spacing Oxford.
enhances the learning of natural concepts: An investigation of Zeller, B. E. (2010). We learned so much when you werent there!:
mechanisms, metacognition, and aging. Memory and Cognition, 39, Reflections on the interteach method and the acephalous class-
750763. doi:10.3758/s13421-010-0063-y room. Teaching Theology and Religion, 13, 270271.
Walker, M. P., & Stickgold, R. (2004). Sleep dependent learning and
memory consolidation. Neuron, 44, 121133. doi: 10.1016/

2013 The Australian Psychological Society