Lead author John Nestojko, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher at WUSTL, said that when compared to learners expecting a test, learners expecting to teach recalled more material correctly, they organized their recall more effectively and they had better memory for especially important information.
The study is based on a series of reading-and-recall experiments in which one group of students was told that they would be tested on a selection of written material, and another group was led to believe that they were preparing to teach the passage to another student.
Findings suggest that simply telling learners that they would later teach another student changes their mindset enough so that they engage in more effective approaches to learning than did their peers who simply expected a test.
The study suggests that instilling an expectation to teach may be a simple, inexpensive intervention with the potential to increase learning efficiency at home and in the classroom.
The study is published recently in the journal Memory and Cognition.