Spaced Retrieval Practice: Can Restudying Trump Retrieval?

Philip Higham*, Greta Fastrich, Rosalind Potts, Jade S. Pickering, Kou Murayama, Julie Hadwin

*Corresponding author for this work

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    We investigated spaced retrieval and restudying in 3 preregistered, online experiments. In all experiments, participants studied 40 Swahili–English word pair translations during an initial study phase, restudied intact pairs or attempted to retrieve the English words to Swahili cues twice in three spaced practice sessions, and then completed a final cued-recall test. All 5 sessions were separated by 2 days. In Experiment 1, we manipulated the response format during retrieval (covert vs. overt) and the test list structure (blocked vs. intermixed covert/overt retrieval trials). A memory rating was required on all trials (retrieval: “Was your answer correct?”; restudy: “Would you have remembered the correct translation?”). Response format had no effect on recall, but surprisingly, final test performance for restudied items exceeded both the overt and covert retrieval conditions. In Experiment 2, we manipulated the requirement to make a memory rating. If a memory rating was required, final test restudy performance exceeded retrieval performance, replicating Experiment 1. However, the pattern was descriptively reversed if no rating was required. In Experiment 3, the memory rating was removed altogether, and we examined recall performance for items restudied versus retrieved once, twice, or thrice. Performance improved with practice, and retrieval performance exceeded restudy performance in all conditions. The reversal of the typical retrieval practice effect observed in Experiments 1 and 2 is discussed in terms of theories of reactivity of memory judgments.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number98
    Number of pages41
    JournalEducational Psychology Review
    Issue number4
    Early online date26 Sept 2023
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

    Bibliographical note

    This work was supported in part by a grant from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), ES/T013664/1 awarded to Philip A. Higham, Julie A. Hadwin, Rosalind Potts, and Kou Murayama and Leverhulme Trust Research Leadership Award (RL-2016-030) awarded to Kou Murayama.


    • Distributed learning
    • Spacing effect
    • Spaced restudying
    • Testing effect
    • Spaced retrieval practice
    • Reactivity
    • Successive relearning


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